Condo Owner Taking Over Neighboring Parking Space

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C.S. from Massachusetts writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I live in a townhouse condo; 7 units all connected together. In the back of the units is a driveway where we all have our garages. Next to each garage is everyone’s AC Unit (technically, that’s the unit’s extra space). My neighbor has two cars (one being a very large truck) and likes to park one in front of my AC unit. That infuriates me heavily. I left him a note that was to the point; “stop parking your car in front of our AC unit. That’s our space. Thank you.” I also sent our condo head an email explaining the situation.

Are there any laws that say I can have this car towed if he continues to park in my section? I think he knows what he’s doing but just playing dumb.

Mister Condo replies:

C.S., there seems to be a lot of confusion surrounding the parking spaces and who owns what in your condominium association from what you have told me. The first step is to get some clarity. Let’s start with the deed to the unit. Your deed spells out what you own. Typically, it describes the interior of your unit as your property. Occasionally, parking spaces are also deeded. However, unless it is spelled out in the deed, the parking areas and all of the other common grounds are association owned, meaning they are the responsibility of the Board to govern and maintain, which includes enforcement of rules about their use. My guess is that each unit is allowed use of an assigned parking space in the garage and/or on the common grounds. The areas in front of the Air Conditioning units may or may not be used for parking and the Board should have rules in place about if they can be used for parking and who has the right to park there. If it is as you say and the space in front of your AC unit is yours to use, your neighbor has no right to park there. However, unless your driveway is being blocked by his vehicle, I would think you would have no authority to have the vehicle towed. In fact, if there is no rule in place about who can use the common areas for parking, there may not even be a rule violation in play here. Leaving notes on neighbor’s vehicles may seem like one method of correcting the problem but my guess is you will not get any response from your neighbor and you are not creating a good living experience for you or your neighbor. What you should do is report the rule violation to the Board for them to take action. If they determine a rule violation has occurred, they can summon the owner to the next Board meeting and then fine him or give him a warning for breaking the rule, provided the rule exists. If there is no rule, it is now time for the Board to step up and create rules about parking in the common areas and then enforce those rules throughout the association. They cannot simply target your neighbor if there are other reported rules violations. Small associations like yours face special challenges when it comes to rules enforcement because the folks enforcing the rules are also nearby neighbors. The idea is for all unit owners to play nicely since the sandbox is so small. When that doesn’t happen, neighbor versus neighbor squabbles can turn into all-out war. Work with your Board to remedy the problem. Hopefully, your neighbor will start behaving in a more neighborly manner. Good luck!

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