By: Barbara G. Hager
In Connecticut, common interest communities, especially cooperatives and condominiums, often have very limited space allocated to parking. Many complexes were built in the early 1980’s and it seems they did not plan for each unit to have two, sometimes three cars each! Additionally, many had no original plans for designated visitor spaces or handicapped parking areas. Today, boards of directors must consider all these things as they try to get a handle on parking. Finding enough parking for everyone without chaos or confusion, and without trampling on the rights of the disabled.
Sometimes parking spaces are deeded, that is, they are assigned by the deed to your particular unit. If this is the case, the particular parking space should be mentioned in the body of the deed or in the legal description attached to the deed. If your parking space was deeded, the association does not have the authority to disturb your rights to park in your space.
However, most complexes have parking spaces as limited common elements or common elements. If they are limited common elements, they must be stated as such in the Declaration. The unit owners would normally have a space allocated to their unit. Again, this allocation must be specified in the declaration. Generally these spaces, once allocated in the Declaration, will not normally be changed without unit owner consent. Federal fair housing law may require some changes in limited common element allocated spaces, as part of an agency or court order to address disability discrimination issues. Otherwise, any changes to allocated limited common element parking spaces will require a vote of the unit owners and amendment to the declaration. If parking spaces are just listed as limited common elements but not allocated to specific units, they may be changed just as common element parking.
Parking spaces may be common elements, with no particular allocations made. The association has the right under state statutes to regulate these common element parking spaces. Such ability to regulate includes the right to reshuffle all the spaces and assign new ones to everyone. This often comes as a shock to unit owners! Your gut tells you that if you have parked in the exact same space for fifteen years, the association cannot make changes and make you park somewhere else. Unfortunately, this is not true. For good reasons, such as accommodating the handicapped, spaces may be reshuffled at any time.
The right to regulate also includes the right to forbid inoperable cars from being stored in parking areas, and the right to limit work unit owners or tenants may do on their cars in those areas. The Association may also limit the total number of cars a unit owner may keep on the condominium property. For example, units may be limited to two cars only. In that case, a third car would need to be parked off site.
Parking seems to be an “evergreen” problem with common interest communities – so if your association is struggling with this, you may rest assured you have lots of company across Connecticut.