How to Avoid a Parking Nightmare with Your Condo Property Management Company: Addressing Problems and Concerns with Community Parking

Parking is one of the most common areas of complaint that condo property management companies have to deal with. Particularly in Toronto, condo parking is highly desirable and very scarce. In recent years, some parking spaces in Toronto have gone for as much as $60,000 or more. Some parking spaces have even inspired bidding wars, particularly those near newer downtown condo developments.

If you have recently moved into a condominium and are facing parking troubles, you are not alone. Many owners run into surprising problems with their parking spaces, partially due to lack of information and partially due to not fully understanding the condo bylaws and regulations.

Read the Corporation Documents First

The first place to turn when you have a parking question is to your condo’s set of bylaws and regulations. This document will usually detail what owners are permitted to do when it comes to their condo parking spaces and helps you keep from running afoul of your Toronto property management company.

Numerous variations on parking space regulations exist. Some condo corporations that were formed several years ago may not even address the issue of parking spot sales, though others contain restrictive clauses, indicating that a parking spot is attached to the unit by way of title, or that parking spot sales can only take place between unit owners in the condominium.

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Maintain Your Spot

In addition to being aware of your right to sell your spot, you should also know whose responsibility it is to maintain your spot. If damage occurs, you might be responsible for fixing it, or it might fall under the purview of whoever maintains the common elements.

Knowing whose responsibility it is will also help you deal with problems. If you own your parking spot, then you may be the person responsible for dealing with problems if someone begins parking in your spot. Otherwise, you may be able to call your property management company to help you handle people who park in your designated area.

Know the Visitor Policy

If your condo corporation only allows one parking space per unit, then parking is probably cramped as it is. However, you are still likely to have guests over on occasion, meaning that you should become familiar with your community’s guest parking policy. There are a few variations on common policies:

1)     Temporary permit. Some communities offer guest parking passes, which can either be used among different guests or are available for purchase on a guest-by-guest basis, allowing visitors to park in spots on the condo parking area for a set period of time.

2)     General guest parking. Some communities instead set aside a certain number of guest spaces on a first-come, first served basis.

3)     Combination parking. There are communities who require both a temporary pass and have a designated area for guests to park. Guests who park in these spots but fail to display the pass may get towed. Be sure you fully understand the parking scheme and these types of requirements in order to avoid a problem for your guests.

4)     No guest parking. In areas where parking is scarce, there may not be any guest parking available in the lots designated for the condo owners. Instead, guests need to find street parking or make other arrangements for their vehicles.

What are some of the parking guidelines that apply in your community? Do they work well, or are there frequent conflicts about parking spaces? Share this article among your fellow condo owners and use it as a way to discuss improvements for your condo’s parking situation.

Potential Solutions for Parking Problems

A number of Toronto property management companies have sought ways to alleviate parking problems, particularly for their downtown developments. Some of the solutions are more complex and expensive than others.

As just one example, some developers have installed special car elevators into their buildings, which automates the parking system by transporting cars from bays into pre-designated areas underground, using key cards so that owners can retrieve their cars as needed. Automated parking has been installed in the luxurious Jameson House in Vancouver, though other developers are looking at the system and considering it for their developments.

For those who live in more modest developments, though, the solution may not be high tech garages. Instead, the solution might be tweaking the regulations surrounding parking, or ensuring a proper system is in place for handling violations. In many instances, parking changes must be done via an amendment to rules or the bylaws.

This can require significant time and effort to gain the votes needed and to provide appropriate notice to owners about the issue. However, if parking is primarily covered in the rules and regulations enforced by the property management company, it may be as easy as a vote at a regular meeting of the corporation.

What do you think the solution is for your condo community’s parking problems? Do you think the current rules and regulations address the problems you experience or are new rules needed to adapt to your current situation?

Enforcing Regulations

If the current regulations are just fine but are simply not being enforced, that is an issue that should be addressed with the condo board and the Toronto property managers handling your complex.

img8In some instances, the property manager may be unaware that violations are taking place. In addition, newer residents are sometimes confused about parking guidelines, and a simple explanation or reminder may be all that is necessary. This is an important role for realtors in properly advising their clients on these regulations prior to purchasing a unit.  For instance, in a townhome unit with a driveway and one garage, one cannot own three vehicles.  If a problem arises it is therefore important for residents to notify the manager of the problem and request that the manager takes action. Remedies available may range from sending out a notice to towing the offender, to taking legal action for repeated violations.

If someone is constantly violating the parking guidelines, it may be time to bring it to the attention of the rest of the board, or the condo community, in order to rectify the situation. The community can then make some decisions about how to handle the situation.

Share some parking guidelines in your community. Is it working for you [or not?]. Is there a conflict around this area in your community?

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