Now that spring upon us, you see them everywhere. Except for a few diehard winter e-bike riders, most e-bike owners, the prudent ones anyway, come out as soon as the snow has melted away. Fair enough.
I know, I know, controversy abounds when it come to these little vehicles. Either you love them, or you hate them. Whatever your position, they are an affordable means of transportation for those who otherwise could not get around as easily. But let’s be fair.
Since the explosion of their popularity, you see them plugged in everywhere. From high value homes to the multi-unit apartment buildings. The concern, for the purpose of this blog, is both safety and cost of operation, but I’ll be fair.
If you own the dwelling you live in, chances are pretty good that you also pay the electric bill. Unless, of course, if you live with Mom and Dad, you don’t, but then again, you don’t own the dwelling. You are simply living there by the good graces of your parents. That’s fair, no?
However, if you’re in a rental situation, the cost of electricity may or may not be included in your rent. If it’s not included and you pay for your own electricity, that’s one thing. But what about those rental dwellers where electricity is included in the rent and they use that very same electricity to charge their scooter while the Landlord pays for the cost of their transportation. That’s not fair, is it?
Someone once said that the only certainty in life is change. Well e-bikes, e-scooters and e-vehicles were not around much 15 years ago, if at all. Provisions in rent, distribution of electrical power, safety as it pertains to e-vehicles was simply not a factor. Fair to say?
So, when rents include the cost of electricity, the intent was for the day-to-day cost of electricity commonly used in the functioning of a rental unit. An e-vehicle is not electricity needed in the day-to-day functioning of a rental unit. Stove, dryer, hot water heater, TV, lights, etc. Fair?
The average cost of electricity for the average e-bike used by the average person for an average amount of time in Canada is around $14 per month. That cheep to get around. That’s fair!
But if the Landlord is paying the electric bill and has several tenants with e-bikes, that adds up quick and that’s not fair.
You wouldn’t expect your landlord to put gas in your car or motorcycle. So why should they pay to put ‘fuel’ in your e-vehicle. Keep it fair.
We recommend that all Landlord include an energy consumption clause as part of their rental agreement. (contact us, we would be happy to help)
Consider this, if a landlord collects $750 per month and the allowable rent increase for the year is set at 1.5%, that means that rent will go up to $761.25. That’s only $11.25 more, but some Tenants expect owners to pay $15 per month to fuel their vehicle. Not fair!
Okay, enough with economics 101. There is a greater risk associated with e-bikes and that is the risk of injury or death and that’s not fair by any standard.
There have been incidents in buildings whereby the battery in a resident’s electric scooter shorted and caught fire in an inside common area where it was stored. The damage could have been much, much worse. Luckily, it only caused $50,000 worth of damage and no one was injured.
Remember, most buildings were not designed to supply power to e-vehicles. Whether you are racing down the road in the latest Tesla or scooting around on an e-bike, the problem is the same. It will take time for building owners to set up an outside covered charging station.
So, in the meantime, these safety protocols should be followed:
- Make sure your e-vehicle is UL or ULc-approved so they meet specific safety standards.
- Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for it’s use and operation.
- Make sure to use the proper type of plug-in or cord.
- Never leave it unattended while it’s charging. (I.e., Don’t plug it in and go to bed)
- Never charge it within an occupied dwelling.
- Don’t bring them indoors, where they present obstacles blocking exits in the event of a fire.
- Ideally, e-vehicles should be stored somewhere that does not block a means of egress.
Despite these risks, some electric vehicles cannot be banned from buildings, since people with disabilities may need them for mobility, but this class devices are seldom problematic due to safety regulations for mobility devices.
Another issue for the owners of e-vehicles; Standard apartment insurance polices typically do not cover them. So, if you want to protect them from theft or given the risk that they pose, you should consider purchasing the proper insurance coverage if you buy a scooter.
Enjoy the spring weather and be safe!
Shield Property Services
Marc Raymond’s insurance loss prevention career spans over 30 years and from coast-to-cost having been, amongst other things, a facilitator and educator in all aspects of building construction and insurance. Looking after Landlords’ interests and investments, he brings that experience and knowledge to his second career in property management.