I am back with additional thoughts and I need your help with more clarification regarding (1) reasonable accommodation and, ( 2)specific circumstances about parking in our condo development.
I understand the rights under ADA and FHA as you have explained them to me and will use them to fight for an appropriate parking space for my husband. But after reading your interpretation of a course of action about the loss of a parking space we paid for—I am really confused. Recall that the Association of Condominium Unit Owners Board of Directors required us to surrender to them our rights to a parking space in the garage for which we paid $12K in order to keep an exclusively assigned handicapped parking space: they stated we could not keep both spaces.
Less than a year ago,the previous Board of Directors had approved the Property Management’s request on behalf of my husband to grant him an exclusive van accessible slot to allow access space to enter and exit his car with his wheelchair. The grant was approved and the space was his until one week ago because we have a new Board of Directors who have revoked the grant; we did not agree nor will we surrender our garage space and have returned the van accessible slot to the common area (took down our permit sign). We paid for the garage space four years ago and shall retain it; we have lost trust in Property Management and the Board of Directors due to their latest decision that has resulted in the loss of my husband’s freedom of mobility.
My husband now has had to return to the same set of conditions he was in a year ago—the daily sorting of where he can park his car due to limited availability of wheelchair accessible parking and the narrowness of the standard disabled slots.
IF we had given the rights to the garage space that we own to the Association and kept the exclusively assigned outdoor slot, we would have essentially paid $12K for the space while other handicapped residents parked beside us in their vans at no cost-- in a van accessible handicapped space marked for their exclusive use. Handicapped spaces are in the common area; because we paid nothing nor were we charged for the exclusively assigned handicapped space, logic would follow that the resident using the assigned space next to us has not paid the Association for the privilege either---yet we would have given up a $12K parking spot.
When we bought our condo, there were two garage spaces included in the package--each priced at $12K. We bought one of the spaces for $12K, which was included in our mortgage. The condo seller sold the second garage space to another resident for $12K; we declined the offer of the remaining space because neither allowed wheelchair access to vehicles. I use our space to park my car.
IF I understand and apply the FHA and ADA correctly then there are two scenarios that do not seem quite fair. They are as follows:
- Scenario (#1) IF a wheelchair bound buyer who drives a van buys a condo that has a garage parking space included in the purchase, then the buyer can use the garage parking space at their discretion. Even though the buyer is unable to use the garage space because of their handicap and lack of access to their vehicle, they could sell or lease or rent the garage space for their financial gain AND at the same time, require a designated van accessible handicapped parking spot in the common area so that the condominium development would remain compliant with FHA and ADA for reasonable accommodation.
- Scenario (#2) IF the same wheelchair bound buyer referenced (#1) who drives a van buys a condo with NO garage space included with the purchase, the condominium development would still be required under FHA and ADA to provide reasonable accommodation for van accessible handicapped parking in the common area.
In accordance with FHA and ADA, residents of our condo development who are handicapped may park in any spot designated for handicapped use, including a van accessible spot. Residents driving vans either park in a van accessible spot or occupy two to three parking spaces so that their chair ramp can be lowered to an access area to enter and exit the vehicle. Because parking in the common area is at a premium, handicapped drivers are encouraged by Patrol Services to park in a space that is not labeled van accessible. Each of the four buildings in the development has two to three van accessible spots for every 22-23 parking spaces. Currently, at least four residents of the handicapped population who drive vans have exclusively assigned parking in a van accessible space.
Since we did not pay for but were granted exclusive use of a van accessible space for wheelchair access, it follows any wheelchair bound resident who bought a condo and drives a van and parks in the common area pays nothing for the space because they drive a van-- and if the space is exclusively assigned by Property Management to the handicapped resident, we now question if there is a monthly assessment fee paid by the occupant---as we did not pay any fee for the space assigned to my husband. We must, however, pay the Association Property Management an additional $20 per month assessment fee for the use of the garage space we bought.
With the circumstances we have presented, it seems that the Association has failed to provide reasonable accommodation for my husband to have wheelchair access to his car. After examining several scenarios, circumstances suggest that wheelchair bound van owners are given preference to van accessible spaces because to park elsewhere would involve the use of two or more slots in the common area parking where spaces are at a premium, limited and un-reserved.
In order to provide reasonable accommodation for my husband and for him to have handicapped access equal to other wheelchair bound residents who drive a vehicle, one of the following options must be considered.
The Property Management and Board of Directors may:
- (1) (a) pay us $12K for rights to our garage space, (b) designate a van accessible slot exclusively for my husband’s vehicle and (c) sign an agreement allowing irrevocable rights to my husband for his exclusive use of the van accessible slot--- or
- (2) (a) make exception to any rule negating exclusive assigned use of parking in the common area; (b) agree to grant my husband a reserved, exclusive parking space of his choice, in the common area, near the front of the building, not among the current lined or hatched lined handicapped spaces and (c) allow us to keep our garage space.
If the handicapped van owners do not pay an assessment fee or a purchase price for an exclusively reserved handicapped space in the common element, then we are being treated differently based on the same disability and penalized for the type of vehicle my husband chose to learn to drive.
If handicapped van owners who own garage space and are secured a van accessible slot according to ADA and FHA, then according to the Acts we are being treated differently because my wheelchair bound husband has been told he must surrender a $12K garage space we own to the Association in exchange for a van accessible slot he should have been assigned through reasonable accommodation.
Spinal cord injured drivers have a choice what vehicle they will learn to drive while in the rehabilitation setting. My husband chose to drive a small car but he has the same challenges as van drivers and is not receiving equal treatment or consideration by the Association or Property Management.
Please advise me if I am correct in my understanding and application of the FHA and ADA with regard to reasonable accommodation. Please advise me if my approach to saving my parking space and not losing $12K would carry any weight under condominium laws.