Most communities have parking challenges. That’s a fact of life, no matter where you live. Guest parking is probably the most cited problem, including guests parking in resident spaces (knowingly or not). But there are lots of other parking issues common to most communities:
- Inappropriate or prohibited street parking
- Insufficient parking spaces
- Parking on landscaping
- Parking in handicapped spots
- Parking in fire lanes
- Commercial vehicles parked overnight
- Overnight parking in a prohibited location
- RV and boat parking
- Inoperable vehicles
- Vehicles leaking fluid
- Unregistered or expired plates
A carefully drafted, clearly communicated parking policy can help minimize these parking challenges and their consequences, including violations, towing and fines.
1. Understand rules of jurisdiction in your community.
Make sure that you understand exactly what jurisdiction your community has on public roadways, if any. Your community rules do not outweigh local or state laws regarding the use of public roads. For example, even if a public road runs through your community, your association may not be able to impose fines on or tow vehicles that are illegally parked on it. In this situation, contact the entity that holds the jurisdiction over that 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 usually ask that the vehicle be towed immediately.
2. Know state law before creating a new parking policy.
Your state or municipality may have laws or ordinances that dictate how your community can handle parking policy and any violations of it. Different states have different requirements on how much notice a vehicle’s owner must be given before it is towed, and how that notice must be provided. In some places, a notice can be provided by contacting the owner verbally or in writing, or by posting a conspicuous notice on the vehicle. Other states require no notice at all. So it’s important to know what the laws are before deciding what policy will be in your community. Check with your association attorney if you are unsure which local laws apply to your community.
3. Be sure that your polices are written clearly.
If your governing documents don’t define the parking policy in easy-to-understand language, homeowners may get confused about what is and isn’t a violation. At the same time, an overly strict parking policy can cause hassles for everyone. Save everyone in the community a lot of frustration by making sure that your written parking policy includes the following:
- The association’s right to enforce parking regulations and levy fines for violating them
- 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,
- Guest parking locations
- Vehicle restrictions
- Handicapped parking spots
- Loading zones
- Fire hydrants
- Authorization for your Board to grant exceptions and waivers at its discretion
- Information about if and when towing a vehicle is required, including your 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 your community has parking issues that aren’t addressed by your existing policy or if changes to your community require changes to the policy. Again, please be sure to involve the association’s attorney.
4. Remind residents of rules on a regular basis.
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. But often, homeowners file those away and don’t have ready access to them. Instead of relying on homeowners to know or check the policy, reinforce the policy through regular reminders. Send emails. Post the policy on your community website and link to it on social media. Write an article explaining it, and the reasons why it was written, in your community newsletter. If needed, discuss it at a meeting.
5. Bring in professional help.
A property management company with a local presence will have staff who are knowledgeable and can share best practices from other communities. An experienced, well-trained management team can assist the association in enforcing fair and effective parking policy. That team will also aid your success by planning and executing a communication strategy that makes all residents aware of the parking policy and the consequences for violating it.
Writing and implementing a good parking policy will help minimize parking hassles and complaints. It will also make your community safer. For more information on how a property management company can help your community minimize parking problems and more, contact FirstService Residential
, Georgia’s leading community association management company.