Answers to a reader’s questions
By: Helsing Admin
Can the Board  limit the number of vehicles owners / residents park at the HOA  require owners / residents to open their garage door to show that the garage is clear enough to park 2 vehicles  require owners / residents to keep motorcycles used only for recreation and not a primary mode of transportation (to/from work or school) off site?
The HOA has a CC&R that states garages are the primary parking place and are to be kept clear enough to park the number of vehicles for which they were designed.
The HOA consists of 148 single family detached houses and each has a 2 car garage.
There are a total of 150 parking spaces outside of garages on the HOA’s streets.
Many (exact number unknown) use half the garage for storage. 40 homes have 4 vehicles, 3 homes have 5 vehicles and 1 home has 6 vehicles. In addition some owners have pickup trucks or 4×4 trucks too large to park inside their garage. Some owners have motorcycles parked in their garage rather than one of their vehicles.
While I do not know what association you live in, these concerns come up frequently in HOA’s and are worth some comment.
Can The Board limit the number of vehicles owners/residents park at the HOA? While I have never seen a set of documents that authorizes the Board to limit the number of vehicles a resident can park, I suppose that at least theoretically it is possible to have a set of CC&R’s that allow that. More common, however, are documents that establish a specific limit on the number of vehicles that can be parked. By this I mean the CC&R’s prohibit vehicles beyond a certain number to be parked, and the Board is simply enforcing those restrictions that all owners are bound by. Even this situation, however, is pretty rare. Generally if the number of vehicles a resident can park on the property are restricted, it is indirectly because there simply are not enough parking places and if you have too many cars there is no place to park them. Also, the governing documents typically provide for one of two situations: (a) the documents restrict where residents can park, leaving all remaining parking for guests; or (b) the documents give the Board of Directors the authority to determine what spaces may be used by guests and what spaces by owners. In either case, it is very possible for owners not to be able to park every car they might own.
Can the Board require owners/residents to open their garage door to show they can park two vehicles (your CC&R’s state that owners must keep their garages available for parking)? Typically, your documents would give the Board the authority to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure compliance with the CC&R’s. Most owners with nothing to hide will be more than willing to open their garage door for a few minutes with reasonable notice and coordination. Those that won’t, in my experience, typically do so with a reason and if the Board does feel the homeowner is in violation they should contact their attorney and start the process, with the attorney’s guidance, to confirm or deny the allegation (by allegation, I mean there is some reason to believe the rule is being broken). The Board should not attempt to force an unwilling homeowner to give access without obtaining legal advice.
Can the Board prohibit recreational-only motorcycles from being stored on the property? I definitely would not attempt to do so without obtaining legal advice. I assume by the “property” you do not mean in their exclusive use common area or in their garage. Doesn’t this sound to you like there might be some property rights issues here? It certainly does to me and I see no logic as to why a Board would even want to consider this – but if they are this is definitely a time for legal advice.
Putting your last question with the remaining comments in your request for an article on this subject, and reading between the lines, it looks like your Board really needs to refine its parking rules and then enforce them. With essentially one open space per home (above and beyond the two car garages), and assuming the governing documents allow the board to make parking rules, I would recommend the Board consider designating a reasonable number of guest parking spaces (maybe 50), mark them, and pass and then enforce a rule that residents may not park in guest parking. This is a pretty common solution and will have the same effect as restricting the number of cars that can be parked. If there are not enough spaces – the folks with an excessive number of cars or whose garages have been made unusable will have to park off of the property. This is the most common and effective solution I have seen. Once a few resident cars are towed from guest parking, the problem goes away quickly.
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