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Everything Your Board Needs to Know About Parking Enforcement & Towing

person putting parking ticket on car in HOA

Many communities struggle to manage parking rules and enforcement. For townhomes and condos with limited spaces, the problems are only amplified with additional limits on guests and times of day you can park. If your HOA needs to rethink its parking policies, we can help. We've advised countless communities on how to solve their parking problems over the last 40 years, and we're here to share that advice with you. Keep reading to discover how to create parking and towing rules that can help restore peace to your association.

HOA Parking Rules

We see the same scenario repeated throughout many communities. An association passes a new rule to help protect the safety and aesthetics of a neighborhood, and residents choose to ignore it. Believe it or not, there’s an effective way to create functional parking regulations that visitors will follow, and homeowners will embrace.

What's Your Parking Problem?

Association rules and regulations should help manage widespread community issues, and the same goes for parking. Take the time as a board to think through your current parking problems and carefully develop a solution that’ll enhance your community without being overly restrictive. Below are some of the most common community parking rules and how they can help.

Prohibited Vehicle Types

Many parking regulations aim to limit the type of vehicle which can be parked to help maintain a look and feel for the neighborhood. Prohibited vehicles often include RVs, campers, boats, large work trucks, and trailers.

Restricted Parking Areas & Times

In apartments, townhomes, and condos, owners typically have designated spots to park their cars, but even single-family home communities will often provide parking guidelines. Some associations restrict street parking to unclog the roadways and maintain the look of the association, while others may only allow parking in garages and other designated areas.

Abandoned & Non-Working Vehicles

Many communities limit the amount of time a vehicle can be parked in one spot. This rule helps discourage residents from parking or abandoning non-working cars in areas that are inconvenient for their neighbors and the community.

Private vs. Public Roads

Once you've identified your community's parking problems, you'll be well on your way. However, before you can roll out your solution, you'll need to do some additional research. Enforcement policies for parking will depend primarily on whether the association owns the streets.

Private Roads

If your HOA owns and operates the roads inside your community, then you’ll have a lot of flexibility when it comes to parking enforcement. You should be able to regulate where vehicles can park, and even restrict some kinds of commercial and recreational vehicles from entering or parking overnight.

Public Roads

If your community uses publicly-maintained roadways, then your parking rules will be limited by local, state, and federal laws. As such, parking violations that occur on public streets typically fall outside of the association's authority. However, some cities and states may still allow HOAs to pass and enforce some community restrictions. If your community is experiencing widespread parking violations on public streets within the community, then consider forming a parking committee. This committee can educate themselves on local parking ordinances and work with local authorities to help resolve any recurring issues.

Are You Providing Parking Alternatives?

Overly restrictive rules can be difficult to enforce, and parking regulations are no exception. If your HOA board decides to restrict where and when residents and their guests can park their vehicles, then don't forget to provide viable alternatives. Creating clearly marked spaces for guests and residents will help everyone follow the rules and limit frustrations before they have the chance to occur.

HOA Towing Rules

Once you’ve developed well-researched parking rules for your community, you’ll need a way to enforce them. Your HOA should start by creating an enforcement plan that’s shared with homeowners well in advance of implementation. In addition to warnings and fines, your board may need to make arrangements with a local towing company to help enforce parking policies.

Local, State, & Federal Towing Laws

Before picking up the phone, your board should educate itself on what’s allowed when it comes to towing resident's vehicles. Some states have strict guidelines, so work closely with your association manager and lawyer to ensure your board isn’t breaking any laws. California, for example, requires a physical notice along with a waiting period of 96 hours before an association can tow a car.

Give Residents Fair Warning

Regardless of your local laws, it’s always a good idea to give everyone fair warning before their car gets towed or ticketed. Posting signs can help but be sensitive to how these signs might look inside your community. Sharing new parking rules in your community newsletter, website, or with a digital community app, like TownSq, will also help get the word out.

Protect Your HOA Board

If your board does decide to contract with a tow company, proceed with caution. Do your due diligence to make sure neither your board nor your residents will be subject to unreasonably high fees and fines. If you allow a tow company to charge unreasonable amounts, then you’ll see a lot of pushback from your community. To avoid any issues, read the fine print, negotiate fees ahead of time, and ask to see the tow company's license and insurance before entering into any agreement or contract.

The Bottom Line

Parking enforcement can be a tightrope walk. However, if you put in the work, your parking rules will enhance, not hurt, your community. Remember, everyone wants the best for their neighborhood. Keep an open dialogue with residents to find common-sense parking solutions that everyone can support.

Want more ideas on how to manage vehicles in your community? Learn how to improve the safety of your streets with our post, “7 Traffic-Calming Devices to Slow Speeding in Your HOA."