Parking challenges in condominiums and residential communities are a fact of life. Although guest parking is probably the most cited issue, including guests parking in resident spaces (knowingly or not), there is a laundry list of other common parking issues:
- Parking in handicapped spots
- Parking in fire lanes
- Parking on landscaping
- Overnight parking in a prohibited location
- Inappropriate or prohibited street parking
- Insufficient parking spaces
- RV and boat parking
- Commercial vehicles parked overnight
- Inoperable vehicles
- Vehicles leaking fluid
- Unregistered or expired plates
A well-written, clearly communicated parking policy can help minimize these parking challenges and their repercussions, including violations, fines and towing.
1. Know who has jurisdiction on which roads in your community.
Make sure that you understand exactly what jurisdiction your community has on public roadways. Your community cannot supersede local or state laws regarding the use of public roads. For example, even if the public road runs through your community, your association may not be able to impose fines or tow vehicles that are illegally parked on it. In this situation, 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 parked in a handicapped spot, you can ask that the vehicle be towed immediately.
2. Check state and local laws before creating a policy.
Your state or municipality may have laws or ordinances that affect how your community is able to deal with parking policy and violations of it. In some states, the vehicle’s owner has 48 hours to 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. Check with your association attorney if you are unsure which local laws apply to your community.
3. Ensure that your governing documents are easy to understand.
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 following:
- 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,
- Handicapped spots
- Loading zones
- Fire hydrants
- Guest parking
- Vehicle restrictions
- Authorization for your Board to grant exceptions and waivers at its discretion
- Information about if and when a tow is required, including the association’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. Again, please be sure to involve the association’s attorney.
4. Communicate the rules frequently.
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 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 a community meeting.
5. Get expert assistance.
A professional property management company with a local presence will be knowledgeable and can share best practices from other communities. This firm will provide experienced, qualified and well-trained staff to assist the association in enforcing a parking policy. 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 in minimizing parking problems and more, contact FirstService Residential
, Florida’s leading property management company.