Condo Renters Threaten Lawsuit Over New Parking Arrangements

S.G. from New York writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

I’m a board member of a 150-unit condo association. The property was built with only 120 parking spaces back then. We just reconstructed additional spaces on the property for the first time in over 50 years. We have unassigned spaces due to near 50/50 owner/renter ratio but have now given Priority parking for Resident Owners only and have designated spaces for renters on the other side of the property – a short walk. Prior to restructuring, renters parked closer to their units which also meant owners having no space at all. Our new lot however, now has about 10-12 unused preferred spaces every day where before restructuring, we never had a single open space.

A few renters have threatened to file a discrimination lawsuit based on 2 things: 1) they used to be able to park closer to the building and have now been assigned to the other side of the property/walking a longer distance, and 2) these 10-12 Preferred spaces which are sitting open every day magnifies the question: why can’t the Board make some of these spaces for renters?

We realize it’s the summer season with many vehicles off property/out of town and believe we may see a smaller number of empty spaces after Labor Day, but we really want to know if this would be a case of discrimination in NY or if a court would simply throw it out as the renters do have spaces, they just don’t like where they are now versus prior to the restructure.

Mister Condo replies:

S.G., unless the governing documents read otherwise, the association is free to do what they please with the association-owned parking lot. That being said, in a litigious society such as ours, you might want to run the scenario by the association attorney to see if any residents would have a case. In my opinion, they don’t but I am neither an attorney nor an expert in New York condo law. You will always have malcontents when you rearrange parking. There will be winners and losers but that doesn’t mean they have grounds for a lawsuit. Run it by your association attorney. My guess is you’re fine. All the best!

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