Real Estate Law
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Before we begin, let's clarify the question. It sounds like you and your partner own a home in an HOA. You each have handicapped parking permits, but your HOA has only alloted you one disabled parking place. Is that correct so far?
And are you sure that it's an HOA, rather than a Condo Association? Just asking, because in most states the rules can be different.
I'll look forward to hearing from you,
Jane Doe Deer
It is a little confusing. We have Condominum Part 1 and Condominium Part II and the members of each automatically become the members of the Home Owners Association which was organized September 2002 under the NEw York Not for Profit Corporation Law.
The HOA has assigned one regular parking space to each unit. There are not enough parking spaces to assign two to each unit. This is a 62+ community so there are many singles who only need one space. The have made a rule that if you have a second car you must park in a visitor space and not for longer than three days in any one space.Their rule now says that if you live in the complex you CANNOT park in any of the handicapped spaces even if you have a handicapped permit or license plates.
Because of the general lack of parking spaces and the high number of people who may need them, my first thought is to wonder whether this may also be a building code violation.
That said, you have a sticky wicket because of the general lack of parking, etc.
I'd start by sending a letter to the management, by certified, return-receipt mail (about $5.50) asking that you be alloted two handicapped spaces because there are two people who need them. Ask them to get back to you no later than 5:00 pm on November X, 2010 (give them a couple of weeks if you can). If nothing else, you have now established a paper trail. (I realize that you may have already done this, but wanted to start here, just in case).
If that fails, I'd file a housing discrimination complaint.
If there are enough employees, you have the right to file a complaint with both the state discrimination agency and the federal one, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In New York, you can contact the state agency here: http://www.dhr.state.ny.us/faqs.html
If you start with the state agency, in most states they'll file a complaint with the federal agency, HUD, on your behalf at the same time.
There are deadlines for filing, so don't delay!
Complaint investigations are free. They're not always the best, XXXXX XXXXX do get a free investigation. If it looks like they are going to file a "no cause" finding, withdraw your complaint before they do. That way, if you go to court, a "no cause" finding can't be used against you.
The third and final option is, of course, to hire an attorney to sue. However, this could cost you a lot of money, including paying fees and costs for the "other side" if you lose. In addition, it will cost your association a lot of money in attorney fees, which will hurt your along with everyone else.
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I am not looking to lodge a complaint with the HOA. I want to know if the rules they have made are legal. I was told by one person at the Towm office that they can make such rules. I was told by someone elsse that these rules are illegal, that they cannot
make a rule that someone who has a handicap permit cannot park in a handicapped space. I need to know which is really correct.
I also want to know if the rule they made that a second car cannot be in the same parking space for my then 3 days is legal. Can they make us get permission to park in a space more than 3 days? What I want to know if what is the law or what are
the powers of the HOA. The second part to my question is does the HOA have to
inform the HOA members what transpired at their meeting, othen than matters that have to due with personnel ?
I was suggesting that you file a discrimination complaint AGAINST the HOA. The state agency would make a determination regarding whether or not the handicapped parking rule is legal. Not all law is so black and white that I can just give you the "right" answer.
Don't take legal advice from "someone at the Town office." Was it an attorney? If not, I'd take that person's opinion into consideration but not call it a "fact."
As far as not parking for more than three days in one spot, that kind of rule would be valid if either the membership voted on it or if the Board alone voted it in and the Board has the authority to make those decisions. The answer will be found in your HOA Bylaws, not the state law.
I can't give you legal advice here, but I can give you options.
Option 1 - Write a letter asking for two parking spaces. Give a deadline.
Option 2 - File a discrimination complaint with the state/HUD (free).
Option 3 - Hire a real estate attorney to help you (last resort).
In discrimination law (such as that which covers handicap parking), each case is very fact-specific. In your case, if I was the judge, I'd want to know such things as the total number of handicapped spaces available; the number of residents who need those spaces; etc.
If there are more handicapped spaces than are used on a daily basis by legitimate users, it would seem reasonable to me to provide two such spaces to your unit. On the other hand, if by giving you and your partner two spaces you would deprive other persons with disabilities from having a spot, I would then think that the rule of one space per unit is more reasonable.
So, if you do write to the HOA, as a starting point, include those facts in your letter. This will start you on a paper trail should you not be able to resolve the matter with the Board.
I hope I've explained this. Again, yes there's the law against discrimination, but to reach a decision, a judge would have to look at ALL the facts.
Whether or not the Board has the authority to vote on parking, or whether the vote should be made by the whole membership, will be found in your community's documents: CCR's, Bylaws, Rules. It's really quite simple, as there is usually a section that lays out what the Board's duties and powers are. If the Board didn't have the authority to vote on parking, then the vote should have gone to the whole membership.
My very best,
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