Parking is one of the most common challenges for homeowners associations (HOAs). It seems, regardless of the type of community, the same parking situations happen to us all. These may include:
• Overnight parking in a prohibited location
• Inappropriate or prohibited street parking
• Insufficient parking spaces
• Parking in a resident’s assigned spot
• Guest parking
• RV and boat parking
• Commercial vehicles parked overnight
• Inoperable vehicles
• Vehicles leaking fluid
• Unregistered or expired plates
• Parking in handicapped spots
• Parking in fire lanes
• Parking on landscaping
To help keep misunderstandings and violations to a minimum, follow these five tips to manage your HOA’s parking policy.
1. Review State and Local Laws.
Your state may have passed legislation that affects how HOAs deal with parking regulations and policy. For example, in Nevada, the owner of the vehicle must be given 48 hours to address the problem and move the vehicle. A notice can be provided by contacting the owner verbally or in writing, or by posting a conspicuous notice on the vehicle. In California, there are different rules depending on whether the parking is on a public street or a private one within the association.
Generally speaking, if a vehicle is blocking a fire hydrant or fire lane, blocking a handicap parking space or posing a threat to the health, safety or welfare of a resident, the vehicle can be removed without notifying the owner. Review your local laws to be certain of how you can appropriately address parking situations in your community.
2. Know the Jurisdiction on Your Community’s Public Roads.
Make sure that you understand exactly what the HOA has the jurisdiction over on public roadways. The HOA cannot supersede local or state laws regarding the use of public roads. For example, even if the public road runs through your community, your HOA may not be able to impose fines or tow away vehicles that are illegally parked on it. If this situation occurs, you should contact the city or county that has jurisdiction over the public road and report the problem. If the vehicle poses a threat to the health, safety or welfare of a resident, blocks a fire hydrant or is in a handicap parking spot, you can request that the vehicle be towed immediately.
3. Ensure Your Governing Documents Are Clear.
If your governing documents don’t spell out the parking policy in a clear, easy-to-understand language, homeowners may get confused about what constitutes a violation. At the same time, an overly strict parking policy, like any harsh policy, can cause headaches for everyone. Save your residents (and yourself!) a lot of frustration by making sure that your parking policy includes
- The association’s right to enforce parking regulations and levy fines
- A list of what is and is not allowed, including parking areas that are prohibited by law and rules specific to your association. For example,
- Handicap spots
- Loading zones
- Fire hydrants
- Guest parking
- Vehicle restrictions
- Authorization for your HOA board to grant exceptions and waivers at its discretion
- Information about if and when a tow is required, including the HOA’s authorization to tow, reasonable notification procedures and the owner’s responsibility for all towing-related expenses, if applicable
If any of these details are missing from your parking policy, you may need to update your rules and regulations. Other reasons you may need to update your current policy are if it is no longer compliant with current state and local laws, if parking issues have emerged that aren’t addressed by the existing policy or if changes to your community require additional or modified restrictions.
4. Communicate Parking Rules.
All homeowners and residents should refer to their association’s governing documents when they are unsure about the parking policy–or any other policy for that matter. Sometimes these important HOA documents are safely filed away and forgotten. Rather than counting on homeowners to know or check the rules (and to inform their tenants and guests), reinforce your parking policy regularly. Send out emails. Post the policy on your community website. Include an informative article in your community newsletter. You may also want to have a discussion of the rules at an HOA meeting.
5. Partner With an Experienced Community Management Company.
A professional property management company with a local presence will be knowledgeable of local and state laws. This firm will provide experienced, qualified and well-trained staff to craft and enforce a fair and effective parking policy in your homeowners association. The management staff can also assist by planning and executing a communication strategy to ensure all residents are aware of the parking policy.
Having a good parking policy in place and making sure that your residents understand it can minimize parking problems and help maintain a safe environment for your community. For more information on how a property management company can assist with parking policy and more, contact FirstService Residential
, North America’s leading property management company.