Condo Association Wants to Temporarily Take Back Handicapped Parking

L.J. from Litchfield County writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

We are a community of 400+ units with no “assigned” parking with a major portion of the homes being secondary homes. Each unit is allowed one space per unit. We have 20 handicap parking spots that were provided to those with handicap permits. The problem is that some of these handicap spots can be empty for periods of time with other full-time residents frustrated that they cannot use these empty spaces for additional family vehicles. Management has offered a solution of providing these spaces to other residents who are here by placing a “temporarily available” sign over the existing sign. When handicap residents are to arrive back, they can simply let us know to remove this sign. Are we breaking any ADA or Connecticut/Federal Laws?

Mister Condo replies:

L.J., to say parking is at a premium in your association would be an understatement. I am not an attorney so I cannot offer any legal advice here. Unless your association is bound by ADA limitation because of public facilities on the grounds, the association may be free to use its parking lot however it sees fit. There are exceptions so please speak with your community association attorney to make sure you aren’t in violation of any laws. The basic concept is that the association-owned common grounds are private property. That means they common grounds, like the parking lot, are under the management and control of the Board. The 20 handicap-assigned parking spots have been provided for the use of unit owners who have requested them and provided handicapped permits to back their request and the Board decided to grant the request. I applaud your Board for doing so, however, it is too bad they didn’t consider the needs of the 400+ non-handicapped unit owners when doing so. There may be no issue with doing what you have proposed. The only problem I can foresee is if a handicapped unit owner can’t find an available handicapped parking space when one is needed, they will likely complain to the Board, local officials, local television stations and anyone else who will listen. Whatever the Board decides it would like to do, I strongly suggest a quick phone call to the association’s attorney before creating a rule that could come back to haunt the community. Parking is and always will be a challenge for condos because too many residents have too many vehicles for too few spaces. Most condos were developed with one or two spaces per unit allotted. The reality is that many residents try to park three or four cars on association grounds creating congestion and frustration. Good luck!

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