Q&A:Charging for Parking Spaces

Six years ago I bought a two bedroom condo advertised with having two (2) parking spaces. They are piggyback spaces, meaning that the first car can't get out unless the second car moves. The parking spaces are not part of the deed, therefore they are assigned spaces and I do not pay property taxes for them. I have had the same spaces since I bought my unit 6 years ago. My board has decided that anyone with an "assigned" second spot was not entitled to it and now wants to charge us rent for the second spot or we have to give it up. Since they are piggyback spots, nobody else can park in the second spot without blocking me in so this doesn't make sense. Also, the original offering plan gave everyone one spot and stated that the entitlement of a second spot could be purchased by the first buyer of the condo unit for an additional $10,000. I don't know what to do. How do I prove I am entitled to the second spot? I really do not think it’s fair to start being charged rent after all this time. There are people who have been here more than 20 years and it is happening to them too.

—Unfair in Fairhaven

“It’s hard to answer this question without some additional information. Did the original owner of this unit buy the entitlement to park in the second space?” says Clive Martin, an attorney and counsel at the law firm of Robinson & Cole LLP in Boston. “If so, what did the deed to the next purchaser of the unit say? Did the writer purchase the unit from the first owner or a later owner? What did the writer’s purchase & sale agreement say about parking? Most significantly—what do the condominium’s master deed and declaration of trust say about parking? The answers to these question will allow the writer and his or her counsel to decide if he or she has a claim against the seller of the unit (who may have advertised a parking benefit that he or she couldn’t or didn’t actually convey) or against the trustees (who may or may not be exceeding their authority by charging parkers who don’t have the legal right to park).

“One thing to make clear: the fact that a long time has gone by during which the trustees didn’t act to stop people parking in places they had no right to park, is not a reason that they cannot do so now. If the writer has no legal entitlement to park on common areas, then he or she has to pay for the privilege if the trustees now decide to impose a charge. The fact that the parking is doubled-up makes no difference; if it’s clear to a purchaser of a unit with only one space that his or her parking space is the inside space, he or she takes a risk that the outside space will be assigned to someone else. The only solutions are either to arrange with the person using the outside space to have a spare key to his or her vehicle, or else to pay the trustees for the privilege of using the second space.”

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