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KASS: Can delinquent owner lose parking privileges?

Q:       I am on the board of a mid-sized condominium. Unfortunately, there are more cars than owners and more cars than parking spaces. Accordingly, we do everything possible to “grab” any open/empty space. One of our unit owners is delinquent. Can the board revoke his parking space privileges?   Karen.

A:     Dear Karen, you did not tell me how the parking spaces are held. There are three different ways:

(1) A parking space can be a separate taxable lot, which is owned outright by owners. If this is the case, you cannot take away their property. They own the parking space just like they own the condo unit. If they are delinquent, you certainly can sue them for the money owed or actually foreclose on their unit and their parking space.

(2) Limited Common Element. This is a portion of the common elements where access is limited, such as a porch or a patio. It is outside of the unit (and thus not a unit) but not accessible to every owner. Here, the unit owner has a strong claim to the Limited common element parking space and the board will have problems trying to take it away.

(3)   General common element. Many parking lots are first-come, first-served although handicapped persons generally are given exclusive access to prime areas. In this arena, the law seems to suggest that unless depriving an owner from access to a parking space will create a real hardship, the board has the right to do so. Of course, the board will have to adopt a resolution to the effect that parking will be prohibited when a unit owner is habitually delinquent.

A recent unreported New Jersey case addressed this issue. The unit owner was delinquent and the board revoked his parking privileges. The owner raised all sorts of objections, claiming it was a hardship to him and his family. However, it was pointed out the parking was available on public streets that were no more than 600 feet from the condo. Based on the evidence, the court sided with the association and the owner was not permitted to park in the common parking area until he was paid up in full.


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Q:   I hired a contractor to add a room on our house. In our opinion, he did not do a good job and actually quit in the middle of the job. The contract price was $85,000 and I have already paid him some $70,000. Can I file a mechanic’s lien against him? Fred.

A:   Fred, no, a mechanic’s lien is filed by the contractor or a subcontractor, against the homeowner who has not paid for the work that was done. In fact, many homeowners do not understand that even if you pay the contractor, if the subcontractor was not paid, he/she can file a mechanics lien against the homeowner’s property. So this is a good lesson for homeowners. Before you make the final payment to the contractor, make sure that you get a “release of liens” from all of the subcontractors. This is – or should be – the obligation of your contractor.

To answer your question, you certainly can file a lawsuit against your contractor. But before you do that, make sure that the contractor was licensed in your state. If not, you may have a claim for a refund of all of the money you have paid to your unlicensed contractor. This depends on your own state law.


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