The Extra Car

shutterstock_789993Many communities are dealing with a shortage of parking spaces. Finding a solution to the issue of where to fit residents’ cars can be a huge headache, and when it’s not handled properly it can cause even bigger ones. What can an HOA do to accommodate homeowners’ needs and regulate offenses without opening themselves up to even more trouble? 

Common Parking Issues

Many communities, especially in crowded states like California, have caps on the number of cars allowed per residence, usually at 2 or less cars per home. In neighborhoods where parking is in short supply, this can create a lot of tension. Large families may feel they need more than the number of cars that are allowed and start parking in other residents’ spots. People from outside the community may try to take community spaces when homeowners are out. And when people have guests visiting, there’s a chance that there won’t be anywhere nearby where they can leave their cars.

There are a few steps that HOAs can take to combat these problems. Residents who don’t comply can often be fined, depending on association rules and state law. Lotteries can be held to let residents take advantage of extra guest spaces. If they can come to an agreement, residents who have fewer than the maximum number of cars can also allow a neighbor to use one of their spots (again, depending on association rules).

Hiring a Towing Company

Some HOAs go so far as to contract with a towing company to deal with parking offenders. While this may be a good option in cases where parking problems have gotten out of hand and can’t be controlled otherwise, hiring a towing company can lead to more problems than it solves.

If an HOA does hire a towing company, it needs to take steps to protect itself. It needs to make sure that the exact guidelines for towing cars and the resultant fees are clearly stipulated and agreed to by the towing company. Towing companies have an often-deserved reputation for taking advantage of people and ignoring rules. The HOA should specify the exact time period that needs to pass before a car can be towed, the maximum fees that can be charged, and that there are no hidden costs that will be charged to the HOA for the service. It should also indemnify itself against liability for any rules that the towing company violates. The company might resist, but it is absolutely essential that the association guard itself from the towing company’s aggression or mistakes.

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