Parking Lot Abuses are Out of Control at this Condo!

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R.B. from outside of Connecticut writes:

Dear Mister Condo,

Nice site. I enjoy the questions posted!

I myself have served on the Board of Directors for our complex on and off for some 13 years now. Our MAJOR issue is lack of parking. We have sent out numerous Newsletters, talked one on one with residents, and rewritten Rules & Regulations. We have even hired a Parking Control vendor. We’ve tried everything short of using a 2×4 to get residents to use their garages for parking and NOT for playrooms, extended living rooms, man caves, etc. We even have residents with 2 drivers in their household that have 4 vehicles parked on site taking up valuable space.

Residents do complain to us about the lack of parking within our complex, but we are very limited in property space so we can not add any additional spaces plus no one feels they are part of the problem with their hardwood flooring, large screen TVs and couches in their garages. Do you have any ideas as to how we can solve this dilemma?

Thanks.

Mister Condo replies:

R.B., thank you for the kind words about the website. It is a labor of love for all those involved in providing answers to the excellent questions we receive from visitors like you. The parking problem you are describing is all too common in condos, apartments, and other high density housing areas. You’ve actually mentioned a few practical solutions but I suggest that what is truly needed is resolve and follow-through on the part of the Board, Property Manager, parking control vendor, and even residents who are truly interested in solving the problem.

You start with your condo docs that should detail what parking areas are under the association’s control. If your units have garages and one space in front of the garage as assigned parking then all units theoretically have two guaranteed parking spaces. These spaces may even be deeded to the individual unit owners so the association has no control of these spaces. Also, be sure your by-laws don’t prohibit garages for being used as anything other than garages. That leaves the general use parking lots and areas.

The simplest solution I know of is to limit the amount of guest cars per unit to one and require a Guest Parking pass (showing what unit the car is a guest of) to be displayed on vehicles parked in your parking lots. You can mail these passes to unit owners (one per unit owner, for instance) and tell them that their guests MUST display the pass when parked on association grounds or they will be towed. Be sure to put up plenty of “Permit Parking Only, Violators Will Be Towed” signs and hire a local towing contractor to enforce. This assumes that all of your on site parking is private property and that the association is willing to take this action. It may need to be voted by the Board of Directors or even the unit owners depending on your rules for passing such a rule. Also, keep in mind that towing is an extreme measure and you may need to also coordinate with the local police who will need to be notified any time a car is towed so they are ready to handle the “stolen” car phone call from guest or unit owners who find their cars have been towed.

The funny thing about having one’s car towed is that it tends to send a message that you are serious about enforcing your parking rules. You seldom have to two a car twice as the fees to the offender to the towing company and the inconvenience of having to retrieve a towed car usually get the point across that the offender shouldn’t do it again. My guess is that you can completely eradicate your parking problem in just a few months. But the Board must be resolute in their action. You cannot “kind of” implement a program like this. You must be consistent and steadfast. Your association grounds and parking lots are private property. The Board is the caretaker. It really can be that simple. All the best!

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