Charging of E-scooters and E-bikes in Apartments

Do you Allow Charging of E-scooters and E-bikes in Apartments - Should you?

The incident recently reported by the New Zealand Heraldwhere an e-scooter being chargedin the Wellington apartment building of a member body corporate, burst into flames has caused BCCG to give some thought and consideration to this issue.  

This problem appears to be quite universal, there was a recent article on the Sydney News about a similar problem in a New York apartment building where an e-bike burst into flames while it was being charged, and last week TVNZ’s Seven Sharp programme featured a controlled house fire to show the dangers of incorrectly charging lithium-ion battery products. 

Body corporate committees need to give serious consideration to this issue because it appears that with the prevalence of e-scooters and e-bikes in our cities this problem will only become more frequent. This note is one of caution for committees to give consideration to questions like:

  • Do you allow the charging of e-scooters or e-bikes in your apartment building, or do you insist that they get charged in the garage?
  • In the garage, are there separate charging points that can be used for such charging?
  • Do you have a rule about this issue in your Body Corporate rules and if not should your BC consider having one in place?
  • Have you considered the insurance implications of allowing or permitting owners or tenants charging e-scooters or e-bikes in your apartment building? 
  • Does your insurance policy deal with the issue of a fire in an apartment if it is caused by the charging of an e-scooter or e-bike?
  • Have you addressed this issue with your landlord owners?  They are responsible to the BC for the actions of their tenants.

This list of questions is not exhaustive, it serves to identify some of the key points that need to be considered by BC committees now, and for the future.  The recent New Zealand Herald report and the Seven Sharp programme identified that Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) has issued concerns about people using batteries that are damaged or over-heat when they're being charged, or using incompatible charging units.  

Whilst e-scooter and e-bike charging in private apartments is going to be difficult for committees to police, this is an issue that should be raised with owners and tenants. If we are all mindful of the particular risks and concerns, then we can help reduce the incidence of fires which could be both catastrophic and life threatening. 

If in doubt regarding any of this, seek specialist advice.  WorkSafe NZ, for example, advises electric vehicle owners to:

  • Only use electric vehicle charging adapters supplied by the vehicle manufacturer or an electric vehicle supply equipment manufacturer,
  • Refrain from using any household adapter (such as a double plug or power board) between the electric vehicle supply equipment and the electricity socket, and 
  • Never use damaged equipment and have faulty equipment checked by the manufacturer.

FENZ also have material available and are always keen to provide education and guidance on such matters, rather than having to deal with a fire after a problem has occurred.

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