HOA Story - What would you have done?

We have had a few threads here on HOAs and some of the things they do. Here is one real-life incident that just happened were we live.

For the background, there are parking areas only for residents and parking areas for guests. They are clearly marked with readily-visible signs, so you would have to really not be paying attention to miss them. For resident parking all cars must be registered and have a resident hang tag. For guest parking, each resident has been given two guest pass parking hang tags to be used for their guests parking. That shows that the car is legitimately there as a guest.

Well, about a month ago one teenage friend of the son of one of our residents came to visit. He parked in one of the resident parking areas. The residents did not confirm where he was parked, nor did they give him the guest parking hang tag to use. The parking service towed the car for being parked in the wrong place and the owner had to pay $200 to retrieve the car.

The resident asked the board to reimburse him the $200. What would you have done?

What is the resident’s argument? Sounds like lesson learned.

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I don’t think the car should have been towed unless there was a sign warning it would be towed. At the same time I think the guest should pay a parking fine

However if that spot was assigned to a specific unit then I would have no problem if it was towed

The sign says that unauthorized vehicles will be towed.

In that case I have no problem with that it was towed

I doubt the HOA will reimburse the $200, the rules seem pretty clear. I’d chalk it up as an expensive lesson learned.

My HOA doesn’t have any parking restrictions but my town doesn’t allow parking on the street from 2am-6am. You can go to the police department website and give them the information for vehicles you will be parking on the street.a few times a month and they allow it.

Good question. The resident’s wife and son came to the meeting, and the wife was throwing just about every argument out there. At one point she said that the friend was a new driver and did not have any experience. One board member commented privately that in order to get a driver’s license one is expected to be able to see a sign and read it.

Another time she said that they had changed the rules for that spot recently and that they didn’t know about it. I told her point-blank that that location had had the same rules for the twenty-plus years I have lived here and asked her to please not say otherwise. I could tell from the look on her face she knew she had been called out for making something up and hoping it would slide.

At the end of the day we did not reimburse them for the charge. The board has reimbursed members for tows when it was determined that the tow should not have been made. However, that was not the case here. And, reimbursing that towing charge would have been a hard-cost to the association, which would have meant that all of the residents would have had to pay for that.

And, while I doubt the board’s decision would have been any different in the end, they would have had more sympathy had they simply acknowledged that they were responsible for the rules not being followed, which led to the tow, and asked for a one-time forgiveness. As it was, while she did say that to a point, she also thew in many unrelated things to the point where it was like somebody throwing spaghetti on the wall to see what would stick.

This also reminded me of a time many years ago before I was on the board. I was setting up on-line bill pay and screwed up twice, once in setting it up and once in fixing it after the first bill didn’t get paid. So, once the bill was not paid for two consecutive months I was hit with both late fees and an intent to lien. I then fixed the problem and asked for both the late fees and intent to lien fee be waived. I pled for mercy and acknowledged it was my mistake, and noted that prior to that I had always paid my fees on time. The board waived the late fees but did not refund the intent to lien fee, noting - correctly - that that was a hard cost incurred by the association. I understood fully and took my lump on that.

The problem with this is that there is no way of knowing who owns the car and who they are visiting. About the only way to determine this would be for the parking patrol company to wait by the car until the car’s owner comes out, then get him. That is not practical.

Also, even if they could determine who owned the car, the association would have no authority to fine the guest. The resident would be responsible for any fines.

Just for some more information, there are assigned resident parking spots in the unit. This particular spot, however, was not one of those. Rather, it is what is called a “four hour spot” which residents may use for up to four hours at a time for instances when they need to park somewhere other than their garage (i.e. cleaning the garage, etc). There has been a lot of abuse with those spots over the years, which is why the parking patrol company was given instructions to tow any car parked there which was not registered as a vehicle owned by a resident.

The parking rules in your HOA seem overly confusing, but that’s no excuse. IMO the car should have been towed.

My son’s apartment complex has a pretty good system, about a quarter of the units have their own garage and anyone can park in any of the available outdoor spots, including guests. Residents are required to give management their license plate and vehicle description, but can park anywhere. Tenants can also pay $25 a month for an assigned spot that’s only for them or their guests.

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