No, You Don't Own Your Condo Parking Spot
A relatively common request fielded by condominium associations is from owners wanting to sell their parking spot to another owner. While many owners may believe they own their parking space, parking spaces are almost universally classified as limited common elements that are assigned to a particular unit. While this means unit owners have many of the rights of ownership related to their parking space – such as preventing other vehicles from using the space – from a legal standpoint, they do not own title to the space.
Generally speaking, limited common elements, including parking spaces, are areas of the condominium allocated or reserved for the exclusive use of one or more, but fewer than all units. The Washington Condominium Act definition can be found at RCW 64.34.020(27), the WCIOA definition is at Section 102(30), and the Oregon Condominium Act definition is at ORS 100.005(17).
When it comes to reallocating limited common elements, many condominium declarations have specific requirements that must be followed. Some declarations require that both unit owners obtain approval from their individual mortgage holders before a transfer is effective. An owner can reach a private arrangement with another owner, but unless the declaration requirements are followed, and an amendment to the declaration recorded, the parking space assignment in county property records searched by title companies will not change.
In the absence of specific language in a declaration, state law provides the minimum requirements for reallocating a limited common element. In Washington, the Condo Act, RCW 64.34.228(2), and WCIOA, Section 209, require:
- Approval by the board; and
- A declaration amendment executed by the owners of the units to which the limited common element was and will be allocated.
In Oregon, the Condo Act, ORS 100.515(5), requires:
- Approval by the unit owner and mortgage holders of the unit for which the right of use of the limited common element is presently reserved;
- Approval by the unit owner to which the right of use is being transferred; and
- Both owners agree to and record a declaration amendment setting forth the transfer
It is critically important for associations to understand what is required by their governing documents in order to ensure limited common element reallocations are done correctly. Improper reallocations can result in mass confusion regarding which unit has which parking space assigned to it, and potential liability for an association where a purchasing owner believes he or she is receiving one thing but, in reality, has a completely different parking space or no space at all. Each individual association should review their governing documents for what is required to reallocate a limited common element. If your association has questions regarding your reallocation process for limited common elements, such as parking spaces, or if there are other issues we can assist with, please let us know.