ďWhatís the deal with parking at the Special Olympics? Is it just the two spaces?Ē Ė Jerry Seinfeld
You come home at the end of a long day, maybe even after a long commute. Tired of things like stop-and-go-traffic and the person who almost hit you because he is looking at his cellphone rather than the people and cars they might hit, you pull into the safety and serenity of your condominium association past the mums and pumpkins the board of directors ensured would be placed at the entrance to celebrate the fall and raise spirits. Youíre looking for nothing better to than to get inside your home, get some good comfort food, a favorite beverage and just plain check out from life for a while.
So, you make your way past the rows of parked cars that delivered their owners home before you, round the bend, and make your way to your parking space. Just as the ďIím homeĒ sigh is about to pass your lips, you notice someone has taken your space. The imperfect end to a less than perfect day.
Muttering under your breath about the perfect crime to kill the person who took your space, you circle the property looking for a space to park getting farther and farther away from where you should be able to park, wondering for a brief moment if you could take someone elseís space before a pang of conscience prohibits that somewhat imperfect act of retribution, you find yourself parked far, far away from your unit. You get out of your car, step into a puddle, gather your things, and walk more steps than you should ever have to in a wet shoe to get to your door.
My gosh, Iím not sure what takes up more time at condominium associations, the lack of sufficient parking or pet problems. But it is clear there is rarely enough parking at associations. This makes sense of course. After all, what developer makes the choice to put up less units and more parking, thereby making less money for the developer?
Rather, more and more units are crammed into fewer and fewer spaces, so developers can put in more units and make more money. Developers ask for variances and special exceptions and towns frequently abide by the request. And towns pass Ö interesting ordinances that say things like every unit has to have 1.5 spaces. Iíve met several people who on their best days are rarely more than half human, but they are still whole persons, so the result is less parking than most associations should have.
Iíve seen and heard of people storing items such as kayaks in parking spaces, sticking out into the driving area impeding traffic and people storing so many items, bikes, toys and more that it looks like a permanent yard sale is going on, and, yes, people placing storage pods in their spaces since they havenít quite figured out how to store their items in their home.
So, what to do? Parking spaces are part of the common area. If the board has assigned spaces, or if spaces have been designated as limited common area, and someone is in your designated space, take a picture of it, and send it to the board of directors.
Every association should have the ability to require owners to provide the license plate numbers of its residents, so it should be able to track who has parked illegally. Have them find out whose selfish act caused you the misery of taking your space, and fine them enough to make sure they wonít do it again.
If that fails, ask the board to tow the car, a right it has. If that fails, find out where the board of directors live and park in their spaces or in back of their cars. They will get the point. A fair warning.
Some developers have been known, in order to sell a unit, to put language in a deed to give the buyer an extra space, even someone elseís limited common area space. If that happens, keep in mind the deed is a private contract between the buyer and the seller and carries no weight with the condo association as associations are guided by the declaration and bylaws, not deeds with private sales between a less than reputable developer and an unsuspecting owner.
If all else fails, maybe you can ask a neighbor to let you park your car in the storage pod.
Attorney Robert E. Ducharme is a former teacher whose civil practice is limited to condominium law, primarily in Rockingham and Strafford counties. He can be reached at email@example.com and Ducharme Law, P.L.L.C., found at www.newhampshirecondolaw.com. His column appears bi-weekly.