What to Do When Your Residents Park in the Reserved Spaces That Aren’t Reserved for Them

When management approves a request for a disability-related reserved space, it is also management’s responsibility to “protect the space”—which means enforcing the reservation by towing anyone who parks there if they are not the person authorized to park in that space.

Remember that when you assign a parking space to a disabled resident because the resident requested an assigned space close to his or her apartment door, your responsibility as management is not finished. An assigned space is worthless if management fails to enforce the limitation on use of the space by the assigned resident.

If you find other residents are parking in these designated areas, then here are a few suggestions for how to handle that.

  • Do not use a blue handicap parking sign or blue paint for striping the space—these will allow anyone with a handicap parking permit to use the space on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead, use a simple “Reserved Parking” sign that has a code for the authorized user (do not use their name or apartment number) and another sign that complies with whatever requirements your jurisdiction has for towing improperly parked vehicles.
  • If the assigned spaces are used improperly for quick drop-offs, assign a few spots for l0-minute loading and unloading only.
  • Authorize commercial towing companies to roam the parking lot for the immediate tow of unauthorized parkers.
  • Educate all residents to respect the use of the assigned parking spaces by only those to whom they have been assigned by discussing the importance of these assignments in letters and newsletters.
  • Put warning notices on violators’ windshields printed on pink paper about the size of tickets. In the notice remind the violator that illegally parking in the spot is a lease violation and inconsiderate of the disabled resident who has been assigned the space.
  • Encourage the resident whose space is being improperly used to keep a record of the make, model and license plate number of the violators to provide to management for further action.

Policy Reminders

In addition, we recommend you remind all residents of your parking policies, including the fact that these assigned spaces are not available for loading or general parking, by a written notice, distributed annually. Doing so will not only increase compliance with the policy but will also help convince an enforcement agency that you’ve taken all reasonable steps in the event of a complaint.

Fair Housing Training

Regular Fair Housing training will always help keep your team up to speed.  Incorporate training that shows the practical application of The Fair Housing Act as well as scenario-based training. Mitigate before you litigate is always a good policy to keep.


Doug Chasick, CPM®, CAPS, CAS, Adv. RAM, CLP, SLE, CDEI “The Apartment Doctor,” is president of The Fair Housing Institute, Inc. He began as the resident manager of a 524-unit rental community and has been the president or CEO of five companies, responsible for portfolios of over 28,000 apartments. Chasickwas awarded his CPM® in 1979 and was a member of the IREM National Faculty for eight years and is a Senior Instructor member of the NAAEI Faculty. He is also a Florida and Georgia Real Estate Broker, a licensed Fair Housing Expert Instructor in Virginia, and the recipient of the 2010 NAAEI Apartment Career & Education (ACE) award.