R.M. from New Haven County, Connecticut writes:
Dear Mister Condo,
I’m a new president of 55+ community and could use some advice. We have been trying to limit parking on the roads of our community. Each homeowner has a garage and driveway and we have limited overflow. It was projected that unit owners would house one or two cars. But many unit owners now have in-laws and children that have moved in with them and they now have three or four cars. I know we can’t tell people how many cars they can have but can we limit the amount that can be parked on property? Any advice would be helpful.
Mister Condo replies:
R.M., thanks for writing! Let me begin my remarks by stating that I am not an attorney. This advice is friendly, not legal. If you need true legal advice, kindly contact an attorney who specializes in community association law.
As you can imagine, too many cars and too few parking spaces is one of the top complaints nationwide for condo dwellers. As you have mentioned, developers envision a community where a typical unit is occupied by one or two people with one or two cars and occasional guests. The garage, driveway, and overflow parking areas were designed to handle exactly that situation. Extra residents can be a burden on the property in many ways (extra use of common elements like sidewalks, roads, storage areas, utilities, trash, pools, tennis, etc.) but the demand for increased parking, more times than not, simply cannot be met by the association.
As a rule, the condo documents are very clear on what parking is available to unit owners and other residents (renters and guests). You need to start with what the rules state about parking and then strictly enforce those rules to stop the problem parking. You didn’t mention it but I can guess that some folks are parking where they don’t belong – fire lanes, on the streets, T-parking behind their own vehicles in driveways, long-term use of visitor spaces. All of these infractions need to be corrected and the by-laws are your best friend when it comes to enforcement. If your by-laws do not state parking rules (highly unusual), you need to add parking rules at your next Board meeting.
Do you have a community newsletter? If so, you need to tell the story to your residents by detailing what the rules for parking are. In most communities, the rules are assigned parking is the ONLY parking available to unit owners and renters. Extended family falls into this category as well unless they are truly visitors (a day or two at the most). Visitor spaces are generally reserved for visitors (non-resident). Other vehicles are to be domiciled off property at the expense of the car owner. Vehicles that are parked illegally will be given an initial written warning, followed by a fine, followed by towing at owner’s expense for repeated offenses. Under CIOA, unit owners who are cited with warnings or fines have to be invited to address these warnings and fines at the next Board meeting.
With a little conviction and strict adherence to the rules you can manage this situation to everyone’s satisfaction. Those folks with 3, 4, or even more vehicles may decide the community isn’t right for them and move out. Guess what? They’re right! The community isn’t for folks with lots of cars. No condo is! The folks that are following the parking rules (my guess, most folks do) will appreciate that there is order in the community. That is what they bought when they decided to live in your HOA. Best wishes!