Decades ago when many of our South Florida condominium and cooperative buildings were first constructed, the issue of whether or not there were enough parking spaces to accommodate the residents' needs was not an issue at all. The norm was one or two cars per family; a far cry from today's family with multiple drivers with multiple cars.
Parking today in many of these older condominiums and cooperatives can easily become one of those issues that pit neighbor against neighbor. Boards would be well advised to meet with association counsel to discuss the number of parking spaces available, the nature of each parking space and what reasonable rules and regulations can be passed to fairly address the needs of owners, visitors, workers and the handicapped.
Some communities are unaware whether their spaces are common elements (owners each have a pro rata or percentage share of ownership), limited common elements (reserved for the use of a certain unit or units to the exclusion of others as specified in the Declaration) or appurtenances to the unit (conveyed via deed or via the Declaration to a particular unit and thus, not subject to divestiture).
You must first know the answer to the question, (what kind of parking space is this?) before you can decide what steps the board is empowered to take to control its use. Some communities I see have extremely limited parking facilities; in those instances, it might be reasonable to limit parking use to one or two vehicles. Potential purchasers or tenants with more than the allotted number of vehicles must be told up front about the restriction and, as with any use restriction, it must be routinely and uniformly enforced in order to maintain its viability.
Of course, there a myriad of issues that touch on the issue of parking in a common interest ownership community. Who gets first dibs on the prime handicapped spot by the pool? Can unauthorized cars and disabled vehicles be towed? Can owners with certain parking spaces be forced to pay for maintaining and repairing those spaces? What should be done about the owner who parks a second or third car constantly in the guest spaces?
These questions should be discussed with your association attorney in order to formulate a parking policy that not only meets your community's needs and concerns but also withstands any potential challenges.
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