D.E. from outside of Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
We are a newer association – recently changed from contractor to an owner board. We have an opportunity through a recent development – to deed our parking spaces – but worry that we lose flexibility for piling snow and restricting daytime use from our 3 commercial units – they don’t get “formal” spaces. The question is – can we legally deed the spaces – but in practice – allow first come first serve? We don’t really have an issue with having enough spaces – but being downtown we often have people park for a haircut – ignoring signs – and its not really an issue – but if we hard assign spaces, it will be. So, we want the “deeded spot” for the value that brings to the property – but the “first come first serve” for flexibility (and reality that I can get someone towed – but where do I put my car in the meantime). I would like to offer this as a vote to our community – but not sure if it would be legal to do so – does having a defined deeded space mean we absolutely need to park in that space?
Mister Condo replies:
D.E., I would caution you against using the term “deeded” parking space unless you intend to amend the deeds of each of the units in your association. Having the association control the parking space is far more common and restricting the use to owners is a fairly simple task and easier to manage, in my opinion. The common grounds of the association are private property, that is to say, the association owns the parking lots and can control their use as outlined in the condo’s governing documents. You can number the spaces, designate visitor spaces, and so on. If the commercial units do not have assigned parking as part of the agreement, then the association does not have to provide parking for them. That being said, it is unreasonable to think a business shouldn’t have some parking available for their customers if they are to succeed and provide revenue for the association. My guess is that your condo documents mention general rules about parking. Since the Board conducts the business of the association, the Board can decide if more parking rules are needed and then follow the proper procedure for instituting those rules. You can add signage that defines certain spots for commercial use. You can add signs that instruct residents that other lots are for their use. What you cannot do is simply start towing vehicles without having a comprehensive parking lot program in place. That includes signage and a working relationship with your local police department who will let you know the proper procedures for towing vehicles. The local police will want to know why cars were towed and where they were towed to in the event the vehicle owner reports their car missing. Towing is an extreme measure and should be used as a last resort. Work on managing the parking areas and informing unit owners and guests of the parking rules. My guess is that you can get your parking situation under control in short order. Good luck!