J.M. from Florida writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I have been living in my community for the last 20 years. Never have I had a problem with parking before. All of our units are single building divided into three town homes with a three-car, three-door, non-divided open garage. My garage section isn’t very big especially being completely open on the inside, it would be impossible to have three vehicles parked inside with the ability to get in and back out. I have things stored in my garage as any normal town home living person does leaving me unable to put a vehicle in the garage. There has been a new resident that moved onto our street in our gated community. Since his arrival he has joined the board for parking reasons and is causing nothing but problems this past year. I live in a two-bedroom unit with my wife and son. We have always parked one vehicle behind the other putting two in our driveway. The Board is trying to tell me that I can’t park two vehicles together anymore, one behind the other or they’re going to tow it. They even went as far as to paint yellow lines for parking limitations only for my building and the adjacent neighbors building. The rest of the entire community has no painted lines. There is a very big parking lot one street over from us that is guest parking for the pool and the clubhouse. They are telling us that we cannot park in guest parking. There is no other overflow owner vehicle parking anywhere else in the community. Even if I clear my garage that only takes care of two vehicles. Having three vehicles they’re trying to tell me there is no place I can park it that is acceptable. It has gotten to the point that me and my family are being severely harassed over this matter. Since I have been here for over 20 years does any kind of grandfathered rules apply? Don’t they have to provide some kind of overflow parking for residents since all the guest parking spots they say are not usable for resident vehicle? I am close friends with my neighbors in our building that are only here 4 months out of the year and they allow us to use their two spaces when they’re not here. They’re coming back very soon and before this turns into a huge legal matter, I want to know what my options are and how to fight back. Thank you so much for any kind of response or information you can provide me with. We are located in St. Petersburg, Florida (the Sunshine State).
Mister Condo replies:
J.M., I feel your pain but I don’t think you’re going to like my reply. Generally speaking, the association owns the parking areas in most condominium associations. That means that they make and enforce the rules dealing with parking. I am painfully aware of the notoriously small parking spaces you speak of. Maybe two cars and a golf cart would fit but three full-sized cars are not likely to fit. That being said, that isn’t the Board’s problem or concern. notoriously small parking spaces you speak of. Maybe two cars and a golf cart would fit but three full-sized cars are not likely to fit. That being said, that isn’t the Board’s problem or concern. You have what you have, no more, no less. The association is under no obligation to provide you with any additional parking and your deed likely doesn’t guarantee it either. Additionally, many associations prohibit the type of open storage of belongings you describe. In other words, carports and garages are for parking only. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Board enacts and enforces a rule prohibiting storage in the garages so be ready. The bottom line is that the Board has many powers given to them by the association’s governance documents and state law. If you feel they have overstepped and can back it with provisions of your governing documents, you should seek legal counsel to see if you can fight back. Other than that, your 20-years of using the parking garage as you saw fit rather than how the by-laws read was a bonus for you. I am not aware of any provision that grandfathers in breaking of the rules because it suits you. You can always seek out a seat on the Board yourself as your neighbor has done and see if you can make the changes you seek from within the Board but understand that service on the Board involves much more than just your personal parking issues. I wish you all the best!