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Our condo's parking lot has become a battleground. How can we restore diplomacy?

By Virginia K. Smith  | July 5, 2017 - 12:30PM

I live in a 50-unit condo, with only 40 parking spaces. The parking lot is a common element (though each unit has a dedicated space), and while some owners no longer have cars, some people who own two units park their cars sideways to take up two spaces, and prevent another unit owner from using the space. I asked our board if we can create an "available parking" spreadsheet so open spaces can be used as they become available, but they said the owners dictate how their space can be used. This has led to unit owners with parking spaces playing favorites with who can use their space, creating animosity between owners. Any idea how we might resolve this?

What your board can do about this burgeoning parking lot tension will depend heavily on the ownership structure of your parking spaces, and details laid out in the building offering plan, say our experts.

"In order to answer your question, it would be necessary to review the offering plan, declaration, by-laws, and any license agreement that the condominium unit owners may have received in connection with the use of spaces," says Jeff Reich, an attorney with Schwartz Sladkus Reich Greenberg Atlas LLP. "If the spaces were dedicated to particular units or unit owners through a provision contained in the condominium declaration or by-laws, it might not be possible to reassign the spaces without the consent of the unit owners who control the right to use the spaces."

Unlike co-ops, adds Reich, condos usually deal with parking spaces by issuing deeds or license agreements (sometimes by selling parking spaces or licenses). And if individual owners in your buildings do have deeds or licenses to their specific spaces, the building would need to work with them and gain their permission to open up their spaces to use by other residents, which sounds like it may be an uphill battle.

In short, says Reich, if you question whether your board was being honest about your fellow unit owners' rights in regards to their parking spaces, the details of the arrangement should be laid out in the offering plan and by-laws. But if they do indeed own (and therefore have full rights over) their parking spaces, barring a full takeover of the board and an overhaul of parking lot policy, your neighbors will be well within their rights to play favorites with their parking spaces—even if they choose to do so childishly.


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