Tips for Handling Vehicles with Advertisements

By Amada Merritt
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Can our community restrict vehicles with advertisements on them from parking in driveways or on the streets overnight? These vehicles are allowed in the community, but they have to be parked inside owners’ garages.

Regulating parking in any community is complicated. First, parking priorities will vary widely depending on the type of community, whether urban or rural, condominium or homeowners association, whether the development offers plentiful parking or has limited spaces, and whether the roads are public or private.

Typically, a board or its agent will not have the authority to regulate parking or motor vehicle violations on public roads but will have broad authority for private roads. There may be exceptions to this in each jurisdiction’s code or ordinances. Further, boards have to be attentive that there is specific authority to enforce parking rules. Prior to enforcement, members are entitled to proper legal notice in writing and often by signage in the community, particularly where a member’s car, which is personal property, may be booted and towed. Finally, boards are tasked with the challenge of being able to uniformly and consistently enforce parking violations where owners, including guests, and their cars are frequently changing. 

A community’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) will specify any restrictions relating to vehicles and parking. These restrictions typically cover everything from storing inoperable vehicles and prohibitions of recreational vehicles or trailers to specific limitations and conditions for parking in reserved spots or on streets. Definitions are critically important because whether a vehicle is covered under the restriction will depend on precise language, such as the definition of a commercial vehicle.

Beyond definitions and restrictions in the CC&Rs, a board often has broad authority to administer rules pertaining to common areas, which can include parking and private roads. Boards can create resolutions to assign parking spaces, limit two cars to a shared lot, or prohibit overnight parking. However, difficulty arises if the board attempts to impose a greater restriction on vehicles or parking than is already expressly provided in the documents. So, for example, if the documents either don’t mention a restriction on commercial vehicles at all or, alternatively, only restrict commercial vehicles from being parked on a road overnight, the board cannot, by rule alone, modify this to also ban commercial vehicles in driveways and streets altogether.

Unless the language in the governing documents expressly authorizes the board to amend the restrictions by rule in the future from time-to-time, a more intense restriction will need to be accomplished by amendment only. 

If the documents or existing rules currently prohibit parking of vehicles on the streets overnight, then commercial vehicles are likewise prohibited. Alternatively, if the CC&Rs expressly state that commercial vehicles must be parked only in the garage, then this too will suffice because it is clear to the letter.

If the documents do not grant the board powers to dictate parking in driveways, then it cannot restrict commercial vehicles in owners’ driveways. If the streets are private and all cars are currently allowed to park overnight, the board may put into place under its broad powers a generalized restriction on overnight parking, but it would flow to all vehicles, not only commercial vehicles.

Generally, any rule that is administrative or merely supplemental to an established restriction is permissible, but any kind of board-crafted rule that contradicts a permissive right or privilege in the governing documents (meaning it is not currently restricted) must be accomplished by amendment. If the roads are public and not private, you will need to refer to state statutes.

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Amada Merritt

Amada Merritt manages all of CAI's social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Previously, she worked as a marketing specialist for a veterinary clinic in Virginia where she managed all of the clinic's social media efforts. Amada resides in Woodbridge, Va., with her boyfriend and daughter.