When it comes to parking spaces for condominiums, there are several pieces of governing legislation that come into play. First, when a developer creates a condominium project, the municipal or provincial Community Planning Acts specify the number of parking spaces and the number of barrier-free (handicap) parking spaces required. The condominium corporation’s Declaration indicates whether or not unit owners have “exclusive-use” of parking spaces, how many spaces are provided, if there are any costs associated with parking spaces, and whether or not parking spaces are assigned by the Board.
Even though condominium corporations are privately owned, the number of spaces is regulated by municipal or provincial legislation. In New Brunswick, condos built prior to January 1, 2015 follow the municipal legislation, while those built since follow the provincial legislation. Once the developer of a condo complex gets approval for the required number of regular parking spaces and barrier-free parking spaces, the number cannot be decreased. Any decrease in the required number of parking spaces could be challenged by the legislation and the condominium corporation could be forced to reverse the changes at their expense. So, converting 3 barrier-free spaces to 4 regular spaces is illegal. Removing barrier-free spaces is also not allowed. But, the number of parking spaces can be increased, subject to the availability of space on the condo property and approval by the required vote of the owners.
Each condominium corporation’s Declaration (under section 3 – Common Elements), provides guidelines for the use of common property, including Limited Common Property (often referred to as Exclusive-Use Common Property). Exclusive-Use Common Property is property that assigns the RIGHT for a particular unit owner to the exclusive use of a particular area of the common elements. This can include a parking space, storage locker, or balcony/patio. On the building “Plan”, exclusive use common elements for parking are identified as P+unit number for parking (ie. P211 is exclusive-use parking for Unit 211). Not all condominium corporations have exclusive use common elements – a review of the Declaration and the “Plan” is needed to confirm whether or not a unit has the RIGHT to an exclusive use common element. And keep in mind that, the RIGHT to an exclusive use common element transfers to the new unit owner when the unit is sold. Once identified as exclusive use, this common element cannot be taken away from the unit,without the Board of Directors AND the unit owner signing off on this RIGHT.
Some condominium corporations do not have exclusive-use parking. Parking is provided as Common Use. This means that parking spaces are assigned to unit owners at the discretion of the Board of Directors. Your Declaration (under section 3 – Common Elements) will describe how parking spaces are assigned, how many spaces are assigned, whether or not there is a charge for parking spaces, and whether or not parking spaces can be re-assigned when a unit is sold.
The use of barrier-free parking does not appear to be identified in many condominium documents. Therefore, it may be an issue best handled by the Board of Directors, by including rules for use of these spaces on the condo property. For example, the rule could suggest that these spaces be for visitors only. As in any situation with condo living, the Board of Directors should attempt to resolve problems reasonably. If an owner requests a barrier-free parking space and there are two available – it may be best to agree to the request, with a caveat that the rules could change. This allows some flexibility if additional requests are made and the Board of Directors is faced with too few barrier-free parking spaces to accommodate the requests. As well, the condo corporation’s Declaration likely addresses non-exclusive use parking. Many condo corporations’ Declaration states that non-exclusive use parking spaces are available at a cost. So it is possible to fix a rental payment to the non-exclusive use common element parking spaces, including non-exclusive use barrier-free parking spaces.
It appears there are increasing demands for barrier-free parking in condos, as more seniors choose condominium living. With limited options to increase the number of barrier-free parking spaces, a condo corporation may be faced with no option to accommodate additional barrier-free parking spaces. A potential buyer should take into consideration the availability of both exclusive-use parking and barrier-free parking when considering the purchase of a condominium.
Need more information about exclusive-use common elements and barrier-free parking regulations? Contact Condo-Link for an information session and a review of your condo’s documents.