S.S. from Rockingham County, New Hampshire writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
Our 20+ unit condo is a 55 and older community in New Hampshire. This was a privately developed project on private property 20 years ago. Each owner has a ground floor inside garage assigned parking space. Also, on the property is an outdoor parking lot with unassigned spaces. Owners that have more than one car are instructed to park their additional car(s) in the unassigned spaces in this lot. In front of the building door there are three parking spaces labeled for visitors. One of them is a handicapped parking space. The signage there indicates this is visitor parking only, residents will be towed, and no overnight parking is allowed, except with handicapped vehicle signage on the rear-view mirror. New owners just purchased a unit and have two vehicles. One has a handicapped designation. They have been parking their handicapped designated vehicle 24/7 in the visitor’s spot in front of the building, and their other vehicle is inside the garage. We have explained they cannot monopolize the visitors handicapped spot, however they insist that their handicapped vehicle designation allows them to park permanently there overnight. Are we within our rights to limit the parking in front of the building to visitor only, even in the handicapped spot?
Mister Condo replies:
S.S., I am not an attorney and offer no legal advice in this column. My suggestion is that you speak with a qualified local attorney with community association experience BEFORE you deny use of a handicapped parking space to any user. The association can regulate who uses their parking spaces and how they are used. However, since there is handicapped parking offered and this owner has a handicapped space, it would be a good idea to speak with an attorney before denying use of the space to the handicapped owner. Ideally, the association has rules in place that designate the handicapped space for visitor’s only and have regulated and enforced this rule. The new owner can petition the Board to ask for his/her own handicapped space and the Board can review that request and determine if the request can be reasonable granted. This is why I suggest you speak with an attorney to make sure that the Board understands its obligation to review the request from the owner before simply denying their request and then having to defend a lawsuit. Better safe than sorry. All the best!