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Community association property and handicapped parking spaces

CondoAssociation.com on Thu, Dec 31, 2009 @ 09:12 AM

29 comments

I need a legal interpretation regarding the use of handicapped parking spaces in our community association. When the building was constructed, the developers created three condominium units that would comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. There are two one-bedroom units, and one two-bedroom units, all three on the first floor.

In addition, there are four handicapped parking spaces located near the entrance of the building, and also complying with the ADA. Three spaces were all linked to the ADA condo units. The one bedroom units were each linked to a handicapped parking space. The two bedroom unit is linked to two handicapped spaces. (All two-bedroom units in our community get two parking spaces) Eventually these units were sold to people who were not legally disabled. Therefore, we have residents who are parking in these handicapped spaces, who are not disabled, but hold deeds saying they have the right to park in these spaces. However, this was challenged over the weekend when another one-bedroom unit owner told a trustee that it was not right that his disabled girlfriend could not use one of the handicapped spaces, even though she holds a state placard.

Hearing this, I tried googling "deeded parking" and condominium and handicapped spaces" What I found was a jumbled mess of past cases and inconsistent policies, that generally lead to condominium associations getting into hot water.

Generally speaking, the Fair Housing Act seems to require that condominium associations make reasonable accommodations to residents who require handicapped parking. However, the federal law is silent when it comes to deeded parking. I did come across this case. It involved a resident of a condominium complex who wanted use of handicapped parking space in addition to his deeded parking space. At this complex, residents were deeded parking spaces when they bought their units, much like ours. However, the association appears to have held on to a cluster of guest parking spaces, in addition to handicapped spaces. The condo association would grant a resident a deeded handicapped space, provided they surrender the deed to their current parking space. My concern is that we wouldn't have this option here because our handicapped spaces are owned by individuals who are not handicapped. I'm seeing numerous cases where condo associations have been required to pay thousands of dollars in fines and legal damages to residents. They have also been forced to embark on construction projects to fix the problem.

From my reading of the FHA law, there are two potential solutions.

1. We could force the residents of these three units to forfeit the deeds to their handicapped spaces and issue them deeds to conventional spaces as close to their current spaces as possible. This scenario could potentially cost us some money.

2. The FHA may not apply to our condo association, provided that we do not own parking spaces for the purpose of guest and general parking.

The solution may be to request that the developer sell whatever parking spaces remain to residents in the building who may have extra vehicles. At that point, the Board of Trustees would affirm that we do not provide general or guest parking and that residents would have to make other arrangments when they have guests over. My understanding of the ADA would also require us to remove all handicapped markings from the four spaces in question, as it is currently illegal for those four vehicles to park in a handicapped-marked space without a state-issued placard.

I feel like this is something potentially very serious. Thank you for your attention.

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