J.T. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Thank you for your input on the following! I received a flyer from our condo president on Friday last showing a hand-drawn rough sketch of where each condo owner is now going to park. Our current marked and assigned spaces have not been changed since its construction 40 years ago. I’ve parked in my assigned space for the past 18 years. Each unit has one numbered parking space, however, one of the new unit owners has 3 cars & another owner has 2 cars. There are 5 guest spots which were recently rearranged in the following order: 2, 1, 2 scattered between the 6 units. Each of those unit owners having more than 1 car got parking spaces close to their units away from the road, 3 others also were reassigned spaces close to their units. My original space was reassigned to another, and I was assigned a space further from my unit and closer to the road. As I am unhappy with the location of my new assigned space, I met with the president of our association to discuss 2 options that would be a better situation for me. I told him that what he had done concerning my space was unfair given that there were 2 more suitable options, none of which would create a deficit for the other owners. I sensed that he, the condo president, could see that the space he assigned to me was rather not the best choice he could have made. Again, I told him what he had done Unfair to me. He didn’t like hearing that & began to get a little loud, which in turn evoked me to join the shouting match telling him again that what he did was UNFAIR! He just walked away & said take it up with the new board in February? This of course is happening under his watch, so it ought to be his concern. My question is: is this unfair treatment as in my described situation, have any legal teeth against the association? Those condo owners who got what they wanted were men; I’m a 78 year old woman living alone, an easy target, so he thinks!
Mister Condo replies:
J.T., I am sorry for your parking problem. I am especially sorry that this is a “created” problem, meaning there was no problem until the Board took unnecessary action and created the problem for you and, I suspect, numerous other residents at your association. Both you and the Board President are wrong to get into a shouting match over this. I have never known that approach to solve anything.
Now that cooler heads can prevail, let’s talk about what happened, why it happened, and how we can fix it. Community association laws vary from state to state. Condominium governing documents vary from condo to condo. Let’s start with your condo documents. I expect that there are plans that were filed when the condo was built that detail unit number and/or assigned and visitor parking. Condominium parking lots are largely private affairs so the developer is usually the one who sets all of that up in the planning stages of the development. Once the units are sold and the governance of the association is turned over to the elected Board, the Board controls what is done with the common areas, including the parking lots. Unless the individual units are sold with a particular deeded parking spot, the Board may be free to reassign designated parking areas.
The Board is a democratically elected group of unit owners who are charged with conducting the business of the association. They handle budgets, maintenance, capital improvements, and such, usually with the assistance of a Property Manager. From time to time, condos need to make new rules, amend existing ones, and tackle other issues. Your parking lot reassignment is one such issue. They are not free to do whatever they wish and they are subject to state and federal laws. Your age and status as a 78 year-old woman has not gone unnoticed by me. You may be able to bring a discrimination suit against the Board if worse comes to worse.
Your Board President made an interesting statement that you can take it up with the new Board in February. You certainly can and should. In fact, you should make it a point to not elect anyone who isn’t willing to revert the parking lot assignment back to its previous incarnation which has stood the test of time for the past 18 years. If there is a legitimate reason for reassigning parking spaces, I would like to let the Board present it. If they can’t legitimize what they have done, it is time for some new Board members. Reassigning parking spaces is the kind of malarkey that divides communities and drives resentment between unit owners and the Board. That is exactly the opposite of what they were elected to do. Good luck!