Q&A: Holding a Garage Sale on a Parking Lot

Q. I live in a five-story condominium with 24 units, 24 “designated” parking spots, and six undesignated spots. “Designated” means that only the 24 people with parking tags can park in any one of the 24 designated spots (but the spots are not individually assigned). Anyone can park in the undesignated spots. I have lived at this condo for 20 years. Twice before, I have held a garage sale in one of the designated spots, during which time I have parked my car in an undesignated spot.

Recently, I informed the board that I was going to hold a garage sale and was simply giving them the head’s up about it. Previously, no notice was given to the board to hold garage sales, but I was just being courteous. I was not expecting any reply.

But I did get a reply, stating that they got my “request” and my request to hold a garage sale was denied. The board cited “problems” with a prior garage sale (with no details) and pretended to not to have even been aware that I had previously held two garage sales – which, if true, provides further evidence that the garage sales I previously held inconvenienced no one to the extent that they weren’t even aware that the sales occurred. There is nothing in the bylaws or master deed specifically banning garage sales. Also, I have no other place to hold a garage sale – no family or friends nearby on whose property I could hold a sale. Is the board’s action legal?

Can they ban me from holding a garage sale? Can they limit the activities I can engage in within my parking spot? (Although undesignated, each unit owner has an ownership interest in a parking spot).

                           —Feeling Singled Out

A. “I understand that you have a question and concern about your condominium association denying your request to hold a garage sale in a parking space in the parking lot, which you have done previously,” says attorney Stephanie Wiegand of Griffin Alexander, P.C., which has offices in New Jersey and New York. “There are a few issues at play here, which I will respond to in turn.

“I understand that the association has previously allowed for garage sales to occur by you and other residents. However, if the association had issues with prior garage sales (as it claims), the board usually has the right, under its governing documents, to adopt and implement rules and regulations pertaining to the use of the common and limited common elements. You should check the association’s governing documents to see if the parking spaces are considered to be common or limited common elements. It is likely that they are, even though you, along with the 23 other units, each have an ownership interest in same. This means that the board may limit the use of the spaces and make rules regarding how they can be used, maintained, etc.

“Second, the association may have a concern about an activity (such as holding a garage sale) occurring on its common or limited common elements. A garage sale invites members of the public onto association property to engage in an event that is not necessarily sponsored by the association. If someone were to be hurt during the garage sale, the association may incur liability for same. This is further reason for an association to limit the use of its common elements. However, some communities will host a community-wide garage sale, but this is usually organized and must be approved by the board.

“If you feel that you have been wrongfully denied the opportunity to hold a garage sale in a parking space, you may request alternative dispute resolution (ADR) with the board. The New Jersey Condominium Act, at N.J.S.A. 46:8B-14(k) provides that an association shall provide a fair and efficient procedure for the resolution of housing-related disputes between individual units owners and the association, which shall be readily available as an alternative to litigation. There are various types of methods of ADR that can be offered by your association, including information resolution (meeting with management and/or board members), mediation (conducted by a disinterested third party), or a covenants (or rules and regulations) committee (which is typically made up of a group of unit owners who serve on a committee to hear both sides and render a decision). ADR is non-binding, but often a great way for parties to resolve their disputes and differences.”

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