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Hello. I'll be happy to assist you. The short answer to your question is that, yes, this is legal. Essentilly, the apartment complex parking lot is private property. As such, they can make whatever rules they feel are necessary, and the law allows them to enforce them by towing vehicles not in compliance. That said, they do have to give notice of the rules, whatever they are. Here, it does sound like they gave some notice of the parking rules with the sign stating that permits are required to park. In theory, they would be within their legal right to disallow all guest parking altogether.
It's a frustrating situation, no doubt, but the key thing here is the apartment complex parking lot is private property, so they have very wide discretion on what rules to set and how to enforce them.
Do you have any questions? If so, feel free to ask. If not, please remember to rate my answer before you go.