Condo parking space problem? What do you do if your neighbor’s car is too big for their parking space?
Q: My condo building was built around 30 years ago. The access to the parking area is in a Z shape and our parking spaces are perpendicular to the sidewalk.
As I understand it, a parking place footprint is from the edge of the curb to the end of the perpendicular white lines. Horizontally, it is between the white lines. There are distance rules for travel lanes between opposing spaces. The condo board does not want to take a stance on the size of vehicles considered too large for the parking spaces. Some cars are simply too large for the space sizes in our parking area especially when people put winches and trailer hitches on their vehicles.
Do you have any suggestions on how we can deal with these?
Why Condo Buildings Don’t Police Parking Spaces
A: Ah, another homeowner association that doesn’t want to make rules that it knows some owners won’t like. It doesn’t seem to matter that by not taking care of this problem it’s inconveniencing other owners.
That stance puts you in a tough place. We’ll say what has to be said: Some cars/trucks/hitches/caravans/boats are simply too big to fit inside a moderately-sized parking space.
Condo Parking Rules Make Owners Unhappy
A few years ago, one of Sam’s clients purchased a Hummer vehicle. That car was much wider and longer than most vehicles on the road at the time. Sam’s client was lucky, however, as they had two parking spaces and the client was able to park his vehicle across those two spaces. But without utilizing two spaces, it would have been impossible for the client to park in his parking area. Making the turns in the parking area to get in and out of their space was hard enough. At the time, that building only required that any vehicle fit within the parking space allocated to the residents of the building. As they had two spaces, they allowed Sam’s client to occupy both spaces for that one car.
Parking Space Problem? Look for your Condo Plat Survey
Interestingly, many condominium and other associations have plats of survey that depict the parking areas of the building. We suspect that your building may have something like this. Your governing documents would include a survey plat showing the dimensions of all of the parking spaces in the building. You often see this when the condominium owners have specific rights to use a particular parking space.
The plat of survey for the parking spaces will delineate the exact dimensions of each parking space. In a recent survey that Sam reviewed, the parking spaces in a condominium building were exactly 8 feet by 18 feet. Some parking spaces had no distance between the other spaces. So, if an owner parked a vehicle right up to the eight foot side line of their parking space and the other owner did the same, neither would be able to get out of their cars on that side.
Your seem concerned not with the width and location of the cars, but rather with their length. According to JDPower.com, some full-size SUVs are longer than 18 feet. And, that’s without any attachments placed at the rear of those vehicles.
Condo rules and regulations should include parking spaces
Take a look at the rules and regulations for your condominium association. You’re looking for language that states a vehicle owner is only allowed to park a vehicle within their parking space. When an owner parks their car and a portion of that car can’t fit within their parking space, that owner is occupying an area that belongs to the association. Most governing documents that Sam has reviewed generally prohibit owners from using any portion of the common elements of the building for their sole use.
When a car parks in a building space and extends past the area allocated to that owner, the car is using the common area of the building. We suspect that your governing documents require these owners to get some form of approval from the association to park on part of the common areas of the building. We also suspect that the governing documents would prohibit any owner from parking, storing or obstructing the common elements of the building.
Perhaps with this information in hand, the board of your association can notify those owners whose vehicles are too big for their parking spots of the situation they have created. And then and those owners can come up with a solution.
Parking space rules should prohibit parked cars from extending beyond the boundaries of a space
One solution is to prohibit any parked car to extend beyond the boundaries of any particular car owner’s parking space. That solution would effectively prohibit owners from owning a class of cars that would be too big for the parking spaces in your condominium building. Of course, enforcement of this rule might set off a battle between homeowners.
A second solution might be to have those unit owners with extra long cars work with other owners that may have longer parking spaces or are located in an area of the parking garage that accommodates those larger cars and have these owners swap spaces. This swap could come with compensation from the unit owner that needs to swap or could be temporary until the owner replaces the extra long vehicle.
There are likely other workarounds. You and your neighbors would have to imagine possible compromises given the specifics of your parking garage. You should promote the idea that neighbors working together might afford for a better and stronger community of owners. A win for all.
What if condo owners don’t follow the parking rules?
We also understand that some homeowners don’t want to cooperate. They just want what they want. In these situations the board should act on behalf of all of the unit owners to make sure that the ownership rights of all of the owners are protected. This means leaving the common elements free and clear for the use of all owners. The board (or you) might want to discuss your issue with an attorney that concentrates their practice in condominium or community associations.
What if you don’t find a plat of survey designating specific parking areas? Well, you might be out of luck. The board of directors would have to put rules in place governing the size of cars that can park in the garage, specifying where they can park to safely allow other cars to travel through.
We suspect the local municipality has ordinances regarding safety in parking garages. If the situation is unsafe, the board has a duty to correct the situation. You could also look into whether the length of the cars in your garage cause a risk or danger that needs to be addressed by the board of your association.
Good luck, and let us know how things turn out.
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©2023 by Ilyce Glink and Samuel J. Tamkin. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency.