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Q&A: Not for Sale?

Q. I live in a five-story condominium with 24 units, 24 “designated” parking spots, and six undesignated spots. “Designated” means that only the 24 people with parking tags can park in any one of the 24 designated spots (but the spots are not individually assigned). Anyone can park in the undesignated spots. I have lived at this condo for 20 years. Twice before, I have held a garage sale in one of the designated spots, during which time I have parked my car in an undesignated spot.

 Recently, I informed the board that I was going to hold a garage sale and was simply giving them “heads up” about it. Previously, no notice was given to the board to hold garage sales, but I was just being courteous. I was not expecting any reply.

 But I did get a reply, stating that they got my “request,” and my request to hold a garage sale was denied. The board cited “problems” with a prior garage sale (with no details) and pretended to not to have even been aware that I had previously held two garage sales – which, if true, provides further evidence that the garage sales I previously held inconvenienced no one to the extent that they weren’t even aware that the sales occurred. There is nothing in the bylaws or master deed specifically banning garage sales. Also, I have no other place to hold a garage sale – no family or friends nearby on whose property I could hold a sale. Is the board’s action legal?

 Can they ban me from holding a garage sale? Can they limit the activities I can engage in within my parking spot? (Although undesignated, each unit owner has an ownership interest in a parking spot).

                              —Feeling Singled Out

A. “In short, the board can prohibit a garage sale in the designated parking spots, undesignated parking spots, or any common area, for that matter,” said Dean Lennon, a partner in the Condominium Practice Group at Marcus, Errico, Emmer & Brooks PC in Braintree, Massachusetts.  “The board can also limit the activities of owners in parking spots, even those that the owners have a deeded interest.  

“Why? All of the parking areas are common area of the condo. Even for spots that are designated for a particular unit in the deeds and/or master deed, these are limited common area for which the board still has rule-making authority. Therefore, if the board makes a policy that prohibits any other activity in the parking areas other than parking, the owners must abide by that policy. 

“As I often remind unit owners, limited common area is still common area and the board is entitled to make rules related to the use of the same. 

“Moreover, even if prior boards allowed the use of parking spots for the purpose of having a garage sale, the current board can change that policy and prohibit such use. That is within the rights and powers of the board.” 

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