Q&A: Parking Spaces and Out-of-Town Plates

Q. Can the board of directors of a co-op and management refuse a parking space to someone who lives in the building but has out-of-town license plates?

                                                —Is This Legal?

A. “As with many issues, the answer depends on specific circumstances,” says attorney Mark Axinn of the firm Brill & Meisel in New York City, “including the resident’s status, the building’s general policies, and whether the board wishes to accommodate various shareholders’ desires.

“A board may establish policies that are not contrary to law so long as they are both promulgated and enforced on a non-discriminatory basis. Accordingly, boards could require as a condition for a parking space that shareholders have New York registrations on their vehicles as well as other restrictions such as prohibiting commercial vehicles, trucks or motorcycles. The primary concern is that the board have a uniform policy, which is equally applied to all shareholders.

“I find that it is best to have a month-to-month license agreement that clearly sets forth the rights and obligations of each shareholder/parker. That agreement can be terminated if there is any violation of the parking rules or any default under the proprietary lease. As parking is a privilege and highly desired in New York City, most shareholders will do their utmost not to be in default in order to protect their parking spaces!

“The status of the individual must also be considered. If the individual is a rent-regulated tenant with parking rights in his or her lease, that right may not be rescinded merely because of the failure to register the car in New York unless the lease requires local registration. Depending on the individual circumstances in each building, a board also may want to accommodate “snowbird” shareholders who reside in warmer climates during the winter and register their cars elsewhere. But there is no obligation to do so.

“Finally, boards must remain cognizant of their legal requirements to provide reasonable accommodations for residents with disabilities who require extra accessibility, regardless of the state of registration of their vehicles.” 

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