Those who serve on the board of a homeowners association (HOA) in Pennsylvania have a lot of difficult responsibilities. They need to monitor the state of their community and foster positive relationships with as many local homeowners as possible. They need to understand and help uphold the community bylaws, a process that may include notifying others of non-compliance with certain standards. Occasionally, HOA board members will also need to adapt existing rules to better address current concerns.
For example, with the sudden explosion in popularity that e-bikes and electric scooters have enjoyed, they have become common sights in residential neighborhoods all over Pennsylvania. Plenty of municipalities have rental fleets where people can hop on a scooter or e-bike to cruise around for a short amount of time without buying or maintaining the device themselves. Many others buy an e-bike to enjoy recreationally or for their children to ride.
People often focus so much on the traffic concerns posed by scooters and e-bikes that they may overlook another pressing safety concern. The charging process can cause fires. Can HOAs ban the indoor charging of e-bikes and electric scooters?
Yes, communities can adopt new safety rules
If an HOA could only ever enforce rules that were already on the books, safety issues generated by technological advances would effectively become impossible to address. Pennsylvania law does allow HOA boards to adopt new rules that are necessary to protect the value of properties within the community or the safety of local residents.
One might argue that a ban on e-bike and electric scooter charging could fall into both categories. Having a home burned down will undoubtedly reduce nearby property values. Additionally, if the fire spreads fast enough and the home is close enough to a neighbor’s property, the fire could pose a hazard for other local property owners. While many HOAs focus on what someone does in their front yard or outdoor spaces, prohibiting indoor charging of e-bikes and electric scooters with lithium batteries may be a smart move to preserve property values and the safety of residents.
Of course, as with any new rule added to an existing collection of bylaws, the HOA board will likely need to open up a proposed rule about a ban on e-bike charging to community feedback, and they should expect that some residents may disagree with the proposal. However, provided that the HOA follows the appropriate process, it is still perfectly reasonable for the board to implement a new rule for the safety of everyone in the community.
Identifying and addressing hazards that could affect property values and the characteristics of a community are both important steps for those with a position of authority with a local HOA.