The ADA, FHA, and apartment buildings: your disabled parking rights

| August 8, 2013 | 136 Comments
noncompliant apartment disabled parking rights

Even though this parking space is reserved for people with disabilities, someone in a wheelchair wouldn’t find it all that accessible (via Aaron Gustafson).

For people living with disabilities, accessible parking is absolutely critical, particularly when they live in an apartment building and parking is scarce. We get a lot of lively feedback here at MyParkingSign, and probably a good thirty percent of our comments are about issues regarding disabled parking rights for tenants at residential buildings like apartments.

We’ve heard of management companies removing the disabled parking signs, insisting that two roommates share one disabled parking space, or failing to penalize other residents who park in the reserved accessible spaces without permits. As many ADA coordinators and property managers already know, accessible parking is a complicated issue, but we’re going to do our best to explain how the federal laws apply to accessible parking at residential facilities.

How does the ADA apply to residential parking?

Most people will tell you that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers government buildings as well as public and commercial accommodations, but generally not private property. The reality is a little bit more complicated; there are residential facilities covered by the ADA, but only if they have areas or spaces open to the public. If a residential facility has a rental office, for instance, or if a high-rise condominium has commercial space on the ground floor, both would be considered “public accommodations” under Title III of the ADA, since they contain areas open to people other than residents and their guests.

Let’s say Building A has one assigned parking spot for each its 30 units, has a leasing office that’s open to the public, and was built after the ADA was enacted and thus was required to be built in compliance. The ADA Standards state: Parking for Residents. Where at least one parking space is provided for each residential dwelling unit, at least one parking space complying with 502 shall be provided for each residential dwelling unit required to provide mobility features complying with 809.2 through 809.4. Additional Parking Spaces for Residents. Where the total number of parking spaces provided for each residential dwelling unit exceeds one parking space per residential dwelling unit, 2 percent, but no fewer than one space, of all the parking spaces not covered by shall comply with 502. Parking for Guests, Employees, and Other Non-Residents. Where parking spaces are provided for persons other than residents, parking shall be provided in accordance with Table 208.2.

[2010 ADA Standards, page 66]

Note: 502 is the general requirements for parking spaces, such as the width of the access aisle, and the required signage.

So in Building A, the spaces that are assigned to the units designed for accessibility need to be compliant with all the aspects of section 502, which covers general requirements for parking spaces, such as the width of the access aisle, and the required signage.

Do older apartment buildings have to be ADA compliant?

Handicap parking: please be considerate

You shouldn’t have to ask nicely for accessible parking. View this sign here.

Many apartment buildings are older than 1991, and sometimes residents are told that their building is “grandfathered in” and doesn’t need to comply with the ADA, even if there’s a public element such as a rental office. However, this isn’t true. No matter the age of the building, tenants do have disabled parking rights.

There’s no grandfather exception to the ADA; the facility is expected to “remove barriers to access” whenever “readily achievable.” This language does cause a lot of uncertainty, since readily achievable is usually dependent on resources and cost, or on structural barriers. But in the case of parking, which unlike prohibitive staircases or narrow doorways can be comparatively easy to change with re-striping and signage, there should never be any reason not to comply with the law.

How does the Fair Housing Act fit in?

The ADA isn’t the only federal law that influences accessible parking when it comes to residences. The Fair Housing Act dates back to the late 1960s, and was originally created to combat discrimination based on race or gender, but in the late eighties was comprehensively amended to also combat housing discrimination based on disability.

Let’s imagine Building B: built in 2001, a 210-unit gated complex, comprised of three separate buildings with no public accommodation, and 300 general parking spaces for residents provided throughout the complex. Here, the Fair Housing Act enters the fray, in order to aid in enforcement and interpretation of the ADA. The FHA covers a variety of housing issues, relating to discrimination of tenants, but it also covers the issue of parking. Under the Act:

A minimum of two percent of the number of parking spaces serving covered dwelling units must be made accessible and they must be located on an accessible route; if different types of parking are offered, such as surface parking, garage, or covered spaces, a sufficient number of each type must be made accessible. [Fair Housing Act, page 2.23]

So Building B, with its 300 parking spaces, would need to provide at least six spaces to be in compliance with the Fair Housing Act. Indeed, the FHA goes on to stipulate that this is only the minimum requirement for accessibility. If additional spaces are needed in order to reasonably accommodate a resident with a disability after the buildings are constructed, additional accessible parking spaces may be required, and spaces may need to be moved throughout the facility to accommodate the “shortest accessible route” for anyone with a disability.

There are some exceptions to the FHA. The design and construction requirements only apply to “covered multifamily dwellings” designed and constructed “for first occupancy” after March 13, 1991, and the law exempts multifamily dwellings with fewer than four units, or multifamily townhouses unless they have an elevator.

Further resources on the ADA and FHA

Ultimately, complying with the ADA and the FHA and providing adequate and reasonable accommodations to people with disabilities isn’t always easy. Residents may have to argue with management or landlords to force compliance, or even contact their state housing authority or ADA coordinator to escalate the issue when they feel there has been non-compliance. And of course, there seem to be as many exceptions as there are rules in the complex language of the law. Still, the law does provide protection for your disabled parking rights.

We’ve pulled together some resources and documentation that we find helpful when researching our readers’ questions; we hope they help you, too.

2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design

Fair Housing Act Design Manual

HUD: Accessibility Requirements for Buildings

Fair Housing Accessibility First – Parking FAQ

Parking for People with Disabilities – Iowa [contains a great explanation of when the federal standards apply]

Category: Regulations

Comments (136)

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  1. tammy simons says:

    I live in Michigan, in a upstairs apartment and have to walk across two parking lots to get to my car to go to work. I have a disability, and can’t seem to get the city council man to take me seriously. Who do I contact, to get some rights???

    • Debbie Moore says:

      Hi, Tammy! The correct people to call vary from state to state, and often we hear you have to get a couple of different civil servants on the phone before you’ll have the right office. I think that in your case the Michigan Department of Civil Rights is responsible, though. I would give them a quick call just to confirm before you file a complaint; the instructions on how to do so are here. At the very least, MDCR should be able to tell you who the right person to talk to is.

  2. patricia ironside says:

    i live in a community apartment complex….which has little or few disabled parking places…and it has a A&B building of like 400 each side …its a gated community….can managment assign disabled parking to anyone of there choice ..??? I didn’t think this was legal is it ??…..tks for letting me ask …Patricia Ironside

    • Debbie Moore says:

      Hi, Patricia! Management can allocate their accessible parking spots any way they see fit, as long as the people who are assigned to those spots have disabilities. So if they’re giving those spots to able-bodied people, no matter what, they’re breaking the law.

      • Melinda Medeiros says:

        My daughter lives in an apartment complex. They have assigned two spots for the apartment. One of the roommates is handicap. We requested a handicap spot, with which they complied. However, the spot has a handicap sign and is assigned only to her. It was my understanding that a spot with a handicap sign is accessible to any handicap person. Can they assign a handicap accessible spot to one particular person?

  3. sabrina says:

    I live in an apartment complex of about 300 units. Due to visitors taking up alot of the parking they have decided to change our parking and put visitor spots behind my building which you have to walk around the building about a block to my apartment. My mother is disabled and cannot do this. She does not live with me but is over every day. There are two parking spaces near my building which are handicap but are used by residents that live in my building. Is there anyone I can complain to about this? Or am I stuck?

    • Krissa says:


      This may depend on what type of building you live in. In brief, the Fair Housing Act has accessibility requirements as follows:

      Both privately owned and publicly assisted housing, regardless of whether they are rental or for sale units, must meet the accessibility requirements of the Fair Housing Act when they are located in a building of four or more units, built for first occupancy after March 13, 1991.

      [This explanation can be found here]

      However, we’re increasingly seeing these questions about Visitor Parking so we decided to do a little digging. The Fair Housing Act Design Manual, published in 1996 and still distributed today, does have a section on the requirements for Accessible Visitor Parking. The full text can be found here.

      The problem you’re facing seems to be the “shortest accessible route” requirement; your mother is not entitled to a resident parking pass, sure, but if the Fair Housing Act applies to your building, then both resident AND visitor parking to comply with the “shortest accessible route”. Chapter 2 in the Guidelines addresses the accessibility requirements all around the dwelling, and parking is first mentioned as one of the areas of requirement here on page 2.13:

      Where parking is provided on a multifamily building site, accessible parking spaces on an accessible route are required for residents and visitors. To comply with the Guidelines, such spaces must meet the ANSI 4.6 specifications for parking. The accessible parking that serves a particular building should be located on the shortest possible accessible circulation route to an accessible entrance of the building.

      The Guidelines go into even more detail about the differences between Resident and Visitor Parking starting on page 2.20, and here’s their specific guidance from page 2.24:

      If visitor parking is provided, accessible parking spaces for visitors also must be provided. The Guidelines do not specify a number or percentage of accessible visitor spaces, but provide that such parking must be “sufficient” to provide access to grade level entrances of covered multifamily dwellings. To allow people with disabilities to visit and have access to such entrances on an equitable basis, it is recommended that accessible visitor spaces be dispersed throughout the site, and that several spaces be provided at a building with large numbers of dwelling units.

      Again, all of this is only relevant to you if your building is covered by the FHA — however, if it is, this should be a good starting point. You may also want to check with your state ADA coordinator to get specific advice on how to request that management comply with the law.

      • Yolanda Rivera says:

        Hey krissa I have a ? My nextdoor neighbor husband is handicap and he no longers lives with my neighbor but when he was living there he had handicap signs put up in front of their house but now he move out of state and no longer lives there and everyone on are neighborhood is complianing about thr handicap sign still being there and its taking up space for people who lives on the neighborhood to park but his wife wants the handicap sign to stay up so is she still allow to have the handicap sign still up if her husband no longer lives at her resident?

        • Krissa says:


          I’m not sure I can answer your question fully, because it depends on who put the sign up in the first place. If you live in an apartment complex, that parking space may be required regardless of who in the complex is currently using it — so long as the space is first-come, first-served. If you live in a private detached home and your neighbor has asked the city or county for a dedicated accessible parking spot on the street, but the person who was using it no longer lives there, then I suppose you can contact the city and ask for that space to be re-assessed.

          If it’s a dedicated spot, however, and you neighbor is using it even though her husband no longer has legitimate use (and a placard), then that’s illegal. Your neighbor cannot use that spot as her own reserved parking unless she also has a disability placard from the state.

    • CarolO says:

      Apartment complexes can not make exceptions to one renters handicapped company or there would be 100 other residents wanting a handicapped spot for THEIR guests. Management obligation lays in making their residents life easier, not their guests and handicapped guests do not trump the needs of handicapped residents. I, too, live in a 300 unit apartment building that has only 2 handicapped spots for visitors with disabilities. I have told my friends that if they wanted one of those closer spots, they will simply have to visit in the evening hours. My suggestion would be for you to park in the back of the building and let your mom have your spot or perhaps met her with a wheelchair. This is the downfall of living in an apartment complex and trying to accommodate the needs of all but there is no obligation to accommodate visitors.

  4. Bill Klein says:

    I have been told that there is a Federal or Florida law requiring COAs to provide assigned parking spaces to handicapped residents who request a permanent private parking space in front of their condominium. Is this true and where can I find this law or requirement?

    My condominium tower has only 2 handicapped spaces for 70 units. There are at least 5 units with handicapped residents. Most of the time they are filled and all of the other parking spaces are filled. Many times a handicapped resident is required to park 1 or 2 blocks away from the building. I have brought this fact to the attention of the Directors and asked for 5 handicapped spaces to be provided in front of our building. They stated that Florida Law requires only 2 handicapped spaces per building with 70 residential units. They also state that since handicapped spaces are larger they would have to give up 5 regular spaces to make space for 3 handicapped spaces. Therefore they refuse to make more handicapped spaces.

    Many times there is no place for me to park near my building and I have to find someone to drive my car to the Visitors Lot by the Clubhouse or else I have a long walk back to my unit.

    Bill Klein

    • Krissa says:


      You’re right that there are allowances in the Fair Housing Act (Federal) that require owners to work with tenants when it comes to requesting additional parking above and beyond the minimum mandated by law, assuming your building was built after March 13, 1991. The Federal Guidelines, however, do note that this request is to be made at “first sale or rental”, which I interpret to mean when a tenant moves in:

      Requested Parking Spaces. If buyers or renters request an accessible space at the time of first sale or rental, it may be necessary to provide additional accessible parking spaces if the two percent are already reserved. These must be offered on the same terms and with the full range of choices offered other residents, i.e., surface, garage, or covered parking. If the spaces that make up the two percent count are not being used by residents with disabilities, such space(s) may be moved to a resident requested location near a building or unit entrance. These new parking spaces must be on an accessible route including curb ramps.

      [full text available here, Section 2.20]

      Your condominium IS fulfilling the bare minimum required with two spaces. However, there may be allowances in Florida state law that require residential facilities to go above the minimum for residential parking. The reason I say there MAY be, is that I was able to find very explicit language in the Building Code section of the Florida Statutes, regarding complying with accessible parking requests above the minimum, but this applies to “public accommodations”:

      (c) The number of parking spaces for persons who have disabilities must be increased on the basis of demonstrated and documented need.

      [Found here]

      What I don’t know is whether there’s a similar accommodation for residential facilities — if not, the language in the Fair Housing Act (about requesting extra parking at time of fire sale/rental) might still be helpful to you. There’s an active disability rights organization in Florida that I urge you to get in touch with, to ask what the best next steps would be in this case. Their website is and they can be reached at 800-342-0823.

      Also, it shouldn’t matter that accessible spaces are larger — they’re the size they are because that’s mandated by federal law, and that’s not a acceptable barrier to creating more parking.

  5. kridten says:

    First of all I live in Maryland. I have several disabilities but they are not always visible. I live in an apartment complex and with me having one vehicle and everyone else having 2 or 3 it is very hard to get any parking spot near my building. They do not have any handicapped parking spots and when I questioned this I was told it would have to be specifically requested. I have handicap tags and I filled out the required form to get a handicap spot put somewhere close to my building and even gave them a copy of my disability card from the Motor Vehicle Assoc. Now they (the rental office) wants my doctor to fill out a form telling them what my (many) disabilities are and if what I’m requesting is necessary for me to enjoy living in my apartment and if he is willing to swear to it in court. If I filled out an accommodation form and I already have the tags (that my doctor had to fill out forms for me to get anyway, are they allowed to know what my medical business is? Can they really deny me parking where I pay rent?

    • kridten says:

      And I’m so upset I even spelled my name wrong. It’s Kristen. Thanks to anyone who has any advice.

    • Krissa says:


      What a frustrating situation. To my knowledge, your disability parking tag issued by the state (and thus signed by your doctor) should be sufficient. I’ve never come across any state or federal language that goes into further detail about what can be required, so I suggest you get in touch with the Maryland Disability Law Center and ask them for guidance on this. Their website is and their phone number is 410-727-6352.

      • Dan sheldon says:

        I have this same issue in Missouri. I was asked by my rental manager that i needed a letter from the DMV and a letter from my doctor in order for them to put up a new handicap sign? All of which I did in order to get my handicap placard to begin with? This cant be right can it?

        • Conrad Lumm says:

          In Missouri, this is dealt with at the local level, so it depends where you live. Sorry I can’t provide any better guidance! You may want to try contacting the Missouri Governor’s Council on Disability– they may be able to point you in the right direction. Their email address is [email protected].

  6. lis says:

    krissa; i have a parking question, can i have your email

    • Krissa says:

      Lis, you can send me an email at krissa at smartsign dot com and I’ll see what I can do to help.

  7. Noel says:

    I live in an apartment complex in Pennsylvania. When a disabled person moves out the landlord removes the signage for the Handicap parking place and says anyone can park there The blue lines and handicap person are still on the ground

    • Krissa says:


      Your landlord is in the wrong — that’s not how it works. If the housing complex is required to provide accessible parking (see above for our description of the few exemptions that exist under the Fair Housing Act) then those spaces are the required minimum, regardless of how many tenants currently living there qualify to use those spaces.

  8. Anne says:

    Hello Krissa 🙂 Can you PLEASE HELLLLP ME?!?
    I have lived in the same Apt. for 19yrs now in Renton, WA. It is a “HUD” subsidized property with “owners” who actually are based in CA – who only come up once per year! …thru the years there have been many, many, many Owner & Resident Manager changes 🙁 …and the current Mgr doesnt even walk the property daily or even bother to personally come out of her office to solve the many problems within the complex! (unfortunately, I am on a extremely low fixed-income and cannot afford to move).
    My problem is this: the other day the maintenance men were in the parking lots spray painting numbers on each spot & blackening out ALL of the “Handicapped” spots!!! There has been only 1 designated spot that I have been parking in for 19yrs and recently a new neighbor has moved in and has a “Placard” (with NO visible disabilities!) and has complained that there is no spot for her. After speaking both to the Mgr & Maint., they say that they are now going to assign each Apt. a prkng. spot…so I dont need to worry about having a “Handicapped spot”. However, as my physical disabilities limit my mobility and require me to use/alter between my cane, walker & at times wheelchair, the previous prkng. spot that had the extra diagonal lines space next to it is now gone and I do not have enough room to manuveur…also they are telling me that they will “try” to assign my new spot as close to my apt. as possible…now mind you: I can barely walk any distance at all! So, I ask you: Can they do this? Is this Legal? Can they just take down ALL Handicapped Parking spots w/ adjacent lines from the entire complex and assign whatever spots they choose – while ignoring those of us who have Legal/Medical documentation & Rights and who desparately NEED the “Handicapped” parking?!?!? What are my rights and how do you suggest I handle this? I would truly appreciate your help ASAP…as they are “assigning” prkng spots this week!!! THANKS-A-BUNCH

    • Krissa says:


      What a frustrating situation! It sounds like they’re trying to create reserved parking to assure that people with disability placards can be properly served with accessible parking … however, by getting rid of the access aisle (that’s the part with the diagonal lines, that makes it easy for you to get in and out of your car) they’re creating more problems than they’re solving. Those access aisles are required by the federal ADA standards, and the building code adopted by Washington State.

      I would get in touch with the Northwest ADA Center. They’re a research and advocacy group serving people with disabilities and they are very well informed on state and federal housing law.

      You can call them: 800-949-4232
      Or visit their website:

      Good luck!

  9. Harmony says:

    Hello, quick question, I live in California in a gated community of condos and there is no wheelchair access to get in or out of the complex. The only way is if you drive in with a vehicle. I’ve written Management and they don’t care. Do you happen to know who I would contact next?

    • Debbie Moore says:

      Hi, Harmony, that depends on whether you or someone you know was affected. If so, you (or they) should contact a civil rights or disability lawyer. In California, individuals with disabilities have standing to sue for damages when commercial places aren’t compliant with the law (meaning that unlike in most other places, the people who point out the problem get money in case the court rules that the Americans with Disabilities Act has been violated).

      If no one you know was affected but you’re just being conscientious, then contact the California Department of Justice.

      That sounds really frustrating, though. Good luck either way and let us know how things turn out!

  10. Harmony says:

    Oh and I do realize this is about parking, didn’t think it would hurt to ask about wheelchair access 🙂

  11. Carmen Christian says:

    I live in Evansville, Indiana. The apartment complex my husband and I live in has 141 units (Per manager). She told us that she only has to provide one handicapped spot for these 141 units. We have five people that have handicapped stickers, jockeying for position. The complex does not take a stand against violaters (residents and their company) who part in handicapped spots. Generally they will park on a Friday (after 5 when the office is closed) and stay until Monday 7:30 am, just prior to the office opening at 8 am. The car(s) are parked literally there all weekend with no handicapped sticker in a handicapped marked spot. This has been brought to the manager’s attention on several occasions to no avail.. nothing. What are the laws for apartment complexes in Indiana, how many handicapped spots do they have to provide AND is there recourse for the complex manager to have action against violators who consistently park in handicapped parking spots meant for residents. Frustrating situation that seems to not get resolved.

    • Krissa says:


      According to the FHA, multi-family residential properties such as apartment complexes built after 1991 are required to provide accessible parking for 2% of the total number of dwelling units. So, if there are 141 units, there should be at least 2.8 spots (really, let’s just be generous and assume 3). Those are actually just the minimally required spaces, and property owners actually have to accommodate new arrivals with extra spaces as needed.

      However, enforcement on private property is a tougher issue — the problem you’re describing, where people park all weekend in those spaces without being ticketed or towed by the management, is harder to resolve. The ADA or FHA doesn’t cover enforcement, and local law enforcement only does so for public parking concerns. Your best bet will be documenting the problem and bringing it to management — if they don’t resolve it, you can get in touch with the ADA Indiana advocacy group and ask them for assistance:

  12. charles says:

    all I want to know is how much space for a car or truck has the legal right to in a apartment. I live in Schertz Texas. just need to know the feet from line to line. thanks for any help.

    • Debbie Moore says:

      Hi, Charles! This is a more complicated question than you’d think.

      It’s possible that Schertz has some kind of local ordinance that supersedes Texas law – that happens sometimes (though not often). The best I can tell, though, car parking has to be at least 96 inches wide, line to line, and van parking has to be at least 132 inches, line to line. (Under the Americans with Disabilities Act, a small proportion of accessible parking spots have to be van parking.)
      You can find some details here:

      At the same time, you may not have a “legal right” to any parking at all in your apartment. It depends on the terms of your lease. You’re free to rent a cheaper apartment that doesn’t provide for parking. Indeed, “unbundling” parking from overall rent is becoming more common as more people choose to carpool, take public transit, use ride sharing services, and so forth. This is a great reason to read your lease very carefully before you sign it!

  13. Michael McCann says:

    I live in Jackson Twp, NJ. I live in an apartment community with handicapped parking. We have been here since the end of March,2014. Now..I have PTSD and am on Disability but not handicapped. In the month of April my girlfriend received a ticket for parking in a handicapped space. I fought the ticket and it was dismissed. Since this happened I have done various types of research and I have realized that the the police here are the ones in charge of enforcing both statutes that pertain to said handicapped parking spots. That seems like a conflict of interest and that they are revenue hunting with no accountability. I just got off the phone with the actual Code Enforcement Officer and I was told what I believe to be a big lie. It seems to me that on a township level, they are amending federal law to benefit their bottom line.
    I’m not sure what else to do because I’m not getting a clear answer from the people who are supposed to know. It seems I’m being blown off. The spots in my development only have signage. No painted markings anywhere. If they had painted markings, my girlfriend would not have backed into the wrong spot. The Code Officer told me that this development does not have to come up to ADAAG and New Jersey Subcode Barrier Law code until he comes here and makes the owner aware of the current mandate. Something seems to be fishy and I really want to rectify this situation. Nothing about this situation seems right, or legal! Thanks for your time and I would appreciate a little direction in this matter if you see something else I could do. 

    • Krissa says:


      That sounds like a frustrating situation!

      We get a lot of questions about pavement markings, because we see them everywhere so we often assume they’re required. There are two kinds of pavement marking — the first is the wheelchair stencil that’s “inside” the space, on the ground, and designates that space itself as accessible. The second is the ACCESS AISLE markings, which usually look something like this.

      There’s no requirement for wheelchair stencils or colored lines on the pavement in either the Federal ADA design manual (the 2010 Standards for Accessible Design) or the Federal MUTCD (Manual for Uniform Traffic Control Devices), both of which NJ adheres to without any supplemental regulations. The only pavement-marking requirement in the 2010 Standards is that access aisle between the spaces, which should be marked to make it distinguishable (although the Standards do not specify how or with what colors, leaving that up to the state, see 502.3).

      So, if your girlfriend unwittingly parked in an unmarked access aisle (which can easily happen because they’re also 92 inches by mandate, the same width as a parking space), then yes — the Federal Standards state that it should be marked with paint. However, there’s no federal or NJ-specific requirement for wheelchair stencils on the parking space itself, or colored lines indicating the regular space.

      It sounds like you’re also asking about enforcement. Yes, it’s typical that enforcement of accessible parking is left to municipal and state police departments. I suppose it’s revenue hunting, in a way, although given the number of complaints we hear about no enforcement at all of flagrant accessible parking abuse, arguably they’re not doing a good enough job hunting that revenue! But since means of enforcement it’s prescribed by the federal standards, this gets left to states and municipalities.

  14. Kym Smith says:

    What a great site! We have 450 apartments in our complex and not many disabled spots, so I pay monthly for a covered parking spot because my scooter hangs off the back of my Kia Soul. My question is this: I have heard at least one other person in my complex is getting her covered spot for FREE because of ADA reasons. Is there any info that supports this? Thank you.

    • Krissa says:


      In your complex (assuming it’s built after 1991 and thus governed by the Fair Housing Act) there are a minimum number of disabled spots that MUST be made available at the same cost (or no cost) to all residents equally. The impression I’m getting is that there are accessible spots, but they’re frequently all taken.

      So if parking is generally provided for free, but you’re choosing to pay extra for a covered space because you want the scooter protected from weather, then those are two different issues — however, if the complex is charging you for the covered space in lieu of (free) accessible spaces mandated by the law, then they’re not allowed to do that.

      I’m not sure whether the other person in your complex is getting free covered parking because of some other arrangement, but bearing a disabled placard doesn’t automatically entitle you to free parking — just accessible parking on the shortest accessible route.

  15. Alex Reddinger says:

    I have friends who live in an apartment complex with what seems to be little to no handicap parking.
    I park in front of a building that had no sign out in front of it, then one day the tenant put out the sign that was obviously bought at a store and not set up by the complex or the government. Can they just put disabled parking signs wherever they want? Thanks

    • Krissa says:

      Alex —

      The short answer is, not really! The apartment complex has a federal mandate to create accessible parking if they provide parking (and it they’re built after 1991) as we discussed in this post, so the property owners or managers can purchase accessible parking signage and enforce those parking restrictions. And obviously, the government also puts up accessible parking signage in public areas or municipal parking lots, and they enforce those laws.

      But if a private citizen just buys a sign from a company like ours and puts it up on the street, or in a parking lot that they don’t own — I’m not sure who they expect to enforce it! Chances are it’s going to get taken down. If the tenant is trying to create accessible parking for themselves, they should do so by talking to building management about their needs, assuming they have a valid state-issued disability placard.

  16. Jack says:


    I am really frustrated and hoping you can help. I have lived in an apartment for the last two years (Ohio). When I moved in, I requested accommodation in the way of a handicap spot. This involved me filling out a form that included a section for my doctor. I also have a handicap license plate. The manager had the spot created within the first few weeks of me moving in.

    Everything was great until a new upstairs neighbor moved in and began parking in that spot. She has a handicap placard and the space is not specifically reserved for me. However, I went through a lot – formally requested it and backed up that request with a completed form that required my doctor to say he was willing to testify in court. I feel like this new resident should not be allowed to park in the spot.

    Do I have any recourse here? I don’t want to complain to the manager unless the law provides a space for each documented handicapped resident or it is reasonably expected. Thanks.

    • Krissa says:


      That does sound like a frustrating situation! The management did the right thing when you moved in, accommodating your documented need for accessible parking as required by law (although if the building was built after 1991, they should have already had accessible parking on site as required by the FHA). Now, this new resident has moved in, also with a documented need, and you two are now jockeying to use one first-come, first-serve spot.

      Whether you have any recourse here depends on a few things — chiefly, how many total parking spaces are available for residents. If the building was built after 1991, it’s mandated to comply with the Fair Housing Act and make accessible a minimum of 2% of the total parking space in any one parking lot. If your complex has multiple lots, for instance, than each of those lots would need accessible parking closest to the entrance on the shortest accessible route. However, if there are less than 100 spaces, the minimum is still one accessible spot.

      If your building is covered by the FHA, the law also accounts for new residents moving into the apartment complex being accommodated, even above the mandated 2% minimum:

      “If buyers or renters request an accessible space at the time of first sale or rental, it may be necessary to provide additional accessible parking spaces if the two percent are already reserved.” (section 2.23 of the Design Manual).

      (However, this exception does assume that parking is reserved for each resident — if your parking are is first-come, first-served, then it may not apply, although common sense and decency would suggest that management should accommodate all residents with documented need.)

      So, our advice is based on our reading of the text of the law (and accompanying design manuals) and doesn’t constitute legal advice. However, particularly if your building is newer than 1991, I think you should take a look at the materials I’ve linked here and evaluate your building’s parking landscape — how many total spots are there? have they adequately met the minimum with that one spot? does it have an access aisle and is it on the shortest accessible route to the entrance? And then talk to your management company about creating specific reserved spaces for both current residents with accessibility needs, or additional un-reserved spaces for all current and future residents. If they’re recalcitrant but you think they’re skirting the law, you can get in touch with Disability Rights Ohio, a non-profit dedicated to rights for people with disabilities in Ohio.

  17. I have a question I hope that you can
    Appease me with. If a handicap spot is no longer used by the owner and no longer has a automobile but still is sole owner of their condo can she still use use it no matter if she doesn’t live at her condo??
    Her relative lives there from time to time. Oh… It was my parking spot when I moved here and the board member swith it on me. So, is there any way I can reclaim my spot??

    • Wayne says:

      When I was moved from my parking space due to a handi cap needed it but the owner no longer lives here but her grandson lives there now, does he have legal rights to claim the space, he’s not Handicaped.
      Oh yea, the Board members told me a while back that when the previous
      owner moved out it was my space to claim it back. Also they told me that I have lived here much longer and I’m the oldest.
      Thank you!

    • Krissa says:


      This is a tough one! There are laws that define very broadly what kind of parking should be available in residential facilities (at least, those built after 1991 and subject to the Fair Housing Act), but they are broad strokes — there must be 2% of total available parking made accessible, if parking is reserved for each tenant and a new tenant moves in with demonstrated need, more spaces may need to be created — but there are also many ways in which the minute details of the parking accommodations in multidwelling residential buildings are not defined, and where co-op or condo boards have broad leniency to create their own rules. This is particularly true when it comes to lots or garages where there are individual reserved spots for everyone.

      The FHA does make clear that new accessible spaces should be made available to new, incoming tenants with demonstrated need — even if those spaces are above the minimum. Additionally, there has been case law that indicates that homeowners’ associations or property managers must make reasonable accommodations for extra spaces regardless of their own wait list or distribution policies, since parking cannot be separated from your apartment itself when it comes to quality of life. You can see some examples of that here:

      In your case, it sounds like the problem is that this other tenant is still the sole owner and retains a reserved space that’s accessible, but is not regularly living there. We’re not sure whether you can “reclaim” the space in absence of her primary residence, because those types of distinctions are most likely made in your Association rules, and you’d most likely need to have an attorney review them to make sure they’re fair and above the law.

      However, one thing that you can confirm yourself: if your building was built after 1991 and provides parking sufficient for all residents, then there needs to be a minimum of 2% accessible parking in the lot or garage, regardless of how many are “reserved” and how many are “first come, first serve.” You can talk to the Board or management about complying with that facet of the Fair Housing Act, and whether they simply need to make another reserved space for you along the shortest accessible route.

      (Also, we’re skeptical that this spot seems to be able to be re-assigned at the will of the Board as the “handicap” space, and yet family members are parking there with impunity. But we can’t say for sure whether this is against the law, since it depends on whether these are reserved spaces or marked clearly as accessible spaces; but we agree that it seems fishy!)

  18. Mike says:

    I live in USDA Rural Housing, and have a handicapped tag. There is one designated spot, which has been taken by a delusional tenant who hasn’t driven since she moved in 5 years ago.

    Despite being ‘low-income’, she somehow acquired $50,000+ for a new conversion van that is as big as a bus. She believes someday she will take a trip. Until then, this monstrosity sits in the one and only handicapped spot. It blocks 1/2 the sidewalk in front of it, and sticks out the back 3-4 feet, making it necessary to walk out & around it to get to the sidewalk.

    There are at least two other tenants with walkers/canes who could use this spot.

    Is there anything that says a person cannot just park a handicap vehicle in a spot for perpetuity?

    • Krissa says:


      Thanks for your question! This sounds like a frustrating situation. Unfortunately tbhere’s nothing in the ADA or the FHA that addresses how those parking spaces get used — if residents who are allowed by the association or management to park a car decide to just leave it there, that’s management’s problem, but it’s not a violation of the law. However, I would definitely recommend mentioning the problem to your management, or the agency that administers this housing if it’s federal. Also, if there’s just one accessible space, that must be a rather small lot, or they’re not in compliance in the first place. The law requires that 2% of the total spaces be made accessible spaces, with access aisles, signage, and on the shortest accessible route to the entrance of the building or buildings.

      Good luck!

  19. NaNa says:

    Hello i live in California i am disabled with a California Placard i don’t drive or have a car because of my disability, our apartment building we each have a assigned parking space. I just heard they are going to take away our assigned parking spaces if we don’t own a vehicle.. Is that right for them to do that since i am disabled i have family take me to the doctor , the market etc…and unload my groceries etc ..they parked in my parking space to let me out of the car and to help unload..i am wondering if that is right for them to take our parking spot because we dont own a vehicle..Thank You in advance

    • Krissa says:


      What a frustrating and difficult situation. Unfortunately, it’s also tricky to answer easily. Residential housing, which comes under the Fair Housing Act when it’s required to provide accessible parking for residents, is only mandated to do exactly that — for the residents to park their own cars. While many of these residential facilities also have visitor or guest parking, that’s usually located near a rental office or the main entrance, and not necessarily on the shortest accessible path for permanent residents, which it sounds like your current space does for you, and I’m guessing that visitor parking, if its provided anywhere, isn’t going to serve you equally well.

      When there are assigned spaces for residents, what we do typically see is that people with demonstrated needs get assigned a space as close as possible to the entrance of the building — however, it’s up to management and homeowners’ associations to write the rules about who exactly gets that parking, and when. Since you already had a space and they’re planning to take it away, I would read the association or tenant rules very carefully to make sure they’re required to only provide you a space IF you have a car (as opposed to a simple one-space-per-resident rule that doesn’t specify proof of car ownership). Even if that’s true and they’re simply enforcing their own pre-written rules, you may want to consult an attorney about whether the association needs to accommodate your need for accessible pickup in another way. There’s a well-known lawsuit here in Brooklyn, Shapiro V. Cadman Towers, where the rules of the association were shown to create an undue burden on a resident with a disability, since the waiting list for an accessible space was prohibitively and unrealistically long. Although obviously we’re not lawyers and our interpretation of your situation doesn’t constitute specific legal advice, it does sound like some accommodation should be made by management to continue to provide you the space you were using — even if you don’t own a vehicle yourself.

  20. Fred says:

    My parents live in Fort Lauderdale ,FL. in a Condo which is run by a CO-OP association. Their building is undergoing a major roof project which has totally eliminated their access to the driveway in order to pull their vehicle up to their unit. They have a handicap permit but the driveway access is being blocked by the construction. My father is unable to walk on his own to the vehicle and normally has an aid drive it up to his unit and pick him up. The management claims that since this is private property they can block the circle driveway access during the construction. It is our contention that this creates a violation due to his disability and more importantly a safety issue with medical and fire response. In addition next week they intend to block his sidewalk and he will be forced to go thru the grass which is impossible for him with his walker.
    Do we have any rights to disabled/handicap access to and from their unit to their parking since it is private property ?
    Thank you

    • Krissa says:


      This is a tough question, and a problem we’ve seen surprisingly often. There’s nothing clear about how parking availability should be managed during active construction phases in either the ADA or the FHA. Sources we’ve spoken to tell us that when buildings are completed, the parking lots should be completed in tandem along with accessible spaces — that is, you can’t open your new facility and then put accessible parking in some Phase 2 plan. However, we don’t know if there are any mandates about keeping parking open and accessible, especially to residents, when it comes to construction on existing buildings.

      However, if the management of your parents’ co-op association isn’t making sure that their members have access to the compliant parking spaces (and, more worryingly, plans are in place to remove the safe and accessible pathway to any parking spaces) then we recommend reaching out to some local authorities. the City of Ft. Lauderdale does have an ADA Coordinator who interfaces with the public on matters of city accessibility, and he may be a good starting point to ask if there’s any recourse to the actions of your co-op association management: I hope that helps — good luck.

  21. Joe says:

    I think my neighbor is pulling a fast one. In my complex, we have a garage and 2 spots directly in front. There are 4 additional overflow spots and room down on the end for extra parking. Everyone has to do the car shuffle except this older man who just secured a reserved spot. His wife is constantly in and out of the garage so this appears to be an obvious ploy to avoid that hassle which we all share.

    He has no handicapped sticker. He has a construction job. He doesn’t even use his front door but still goes through his garage every time. Something is clearly not right here.

    I would understand if he moved in and made the proper arrangements but it has been 5 months since these people moved in. Is there any way to see the documents this man filed to earn his hassle free spot?

    • Krissa says:


      This brings up a lot more questions than answers, unfortunately. Was there already an accessible parking space in your complex (which may be required, if it was built after 1991)? Is the space that your neighbor using a space specifically reserved for someone with a valid disabled placard, or has the apartment complex simply reserved him a parking space for another reason?

      For instance, if the sign on the space is a accessible parking sign, indicating that the space is for someone with a placard, then you’re correct — anyone parking there needs a placard. However, you are not allowed to ask to see any documentation. It’s up to the management of your apartment complex to enforce any ADA-required spaces. As a neighbor, you don’t have any rights to ask him for proof of whatever disability or condition might have lead the management to grant him a space. The only thing we can suggest is that if there’s ADA signage on that space, you should remind your apartment’s management that those parking spaces are required to be reserved for people displaying valid disability placards.

  22. Tami Derrick says:

    My 25 year old son is disabled, sometimes needs a wheel chair. We live in a development of condos and town houses. We have one space provided to us, that is not handi-cap accessible. There are no handi-cap spaces any where in the development. The other spaces are very far from the building and again are nt handi-cap accessible. Do they have to put a handi-cap space in for him.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Tami! I’m sorry you’re having this problem. With very few exceptions, your son does have to be provided with accessible parking, and it must be as close as possible to your residence.

      What I would suggest doing is this: ask your development’s managers which exception to the Fair Housing Act or Americans with Disabilities Act they are claiming applies in their property’s case. (If there is any public parking, than the ADA applies; if it’s all assigned, then it’s the FHA.)

      If they can’t tell you, then let them know that they’re in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (in the case of a lot with public parking) or this section of the Fair Housing Act (if all the parking is assigned). If they can tell you why they aren’t providing it, then you may need to talk the issue over with a disability lawyer in order to make sure your son’s needs are met.

      Either way, again with very few exceptions, a minimum of 2% of their parking is required to be accessible. That’s a minimum, too, so even if they say that they already provide accessible parking elsewhere, you could point out that they may still be in violation of the law if your son doesn’t have easy access to it from his residence. If they can’t cite a valid exception but still refuse to change their parking in accordance with the law, contact your state’s Department of Justice, which will at least point out some resources you can use to take action. In many states, the DoJ will take action themselves (though it may take time for them to do so). Local government like your mayor’s office can be useful here, too. Most property managers inherit these problems from developers who never had to face this issue, and a lot of the time they’ll seek to bring their properties into compliance quickly, because the fines can be way more expensive than simply restriping their lots! I hope this helps. Let us know what happens, and best of luck.

  23. Brian H. says:

    This question regards my wife, who is intermittently disabled due to a chronic illness and has a permanent CA disabled placard. I own a home in a non-gated condominium complex which I purchased before I met my wife. The complex does provide a number of designated disabled parking spaces, however they are almost always full. The one closest to my residence is almost always occupied by my neighbor who uses it to store an extra vehicle with a displayed placard. Occasionally my wife is not able to get out of the car in the confines of our garage due to her disability. It is rare that her vehicle is parked outside of the garage but occasionally she parks in Guest parking with her placard displayed as there is usually no available disabled parking. The HOA only allows a vehicle to be parked a maximum of 3 days in a calendar month within the community. After the first night in a calendar month they begin giving you notices and on the 4th night will begin towing your vehicle. If my wife is not physically able to park in our garage because of her disability and the disabled reserved spots are taken, can her vehicle be towed for parking in guest parking (the next closest parking spot to our home)? And if it can, can my neighbor who abuses the disabled spot closest to our house not also be towed for exceeding the HOA allowed 3 nights despite being in a designated disabled spot(he has never been towed or cited so far as i can tell)?

    My wife’s condition is exacerbated by stress and receiving notices with menacing notes hand written on them greatly stresses her out. I almost feel what the HOA is doing is tantamount to harassment of my wife. Do we have any rights or is it time to think about moving to a more disabled friendly community?

  24. Ann says:

    After more that 25 years having the same parking space in my San Francisco Housing Coop, the management staff with the silence of the Board of Directors will take away parking spaces of any resident without a registered/insured automobile. I am handicapped and almost eighty years old. My car broke down a couple months ago and I can’t buy another now so I rent cars and people help me by picking me up and driving me back home. There are few parking options for the people who help me so I need keep my parking space because my ambulation is limited. I have to use a wheel chair in airports. What is my recourse? When I rent cars I need my parking space so I won’t have to walk blocks to get back to my apartment which is located in an urban environment. Please help me.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Ann-

      If you have an accessible parking placard, it applies no matter what car you’re in – unlike plates, a placard can be used in different vehicles, so if other people drive you in different vehicles, you just bring the placard with you. An application for California is here. You will need to take the application to a doctor but that’s usually a problem-free step. You will then need to visit your DMV with the application. It’s not illegal for someone else to drive and park using your placard as long as you’re in the car – just be careful not to lend the placard to anyone who isn’t driving you, because the fines for parking fraud in San Francisco are among the highest in the country! Best of luck.

  25. Charlie says:

    Good Morning Krissa :

    I have a pressing matter regarding Accessible Parking and no one in the city I live in seems to be familiar with federal laws and regulations. Accordingly, I’ve had to fight this battle alone. The purpose of this e-mail is to solicit your guidance with issues pertaining to the Accessible Parking where I live.

    Our Building Developer is one of the most vile creatures I have ever had the displeasure of meeting. His moral turpitude and ethical depravity is evidenced by many instances of behavior whereby he blatantly and willfully violates the law without fear of repercussion by the local authorities.

    What the Grinch is to Christmas, he is to people with disabilities.

    At his directive, one or both of our Accessible Parking spots may be taken at any given time. His agents, his employees, his friends, his service providers – they are all told to park there illegally. In fact, he himself parks in between both of these spots periodically; preventing the ramps on equipped vans the ability to deploy.

    He actively encourages his staff to suggest parking in this designated area whenever residents need to unload groceries, for instance. Surprisingly, he alleges to have an aunt who is in a wheelchair herself! Hypocrisy at its finest. This happens constantly and the local police are hoodwinked into believing that he has the right to do this.

    I have photographed and recorded several infractions over the past few months. I have over 50 pictures of different cars in these otherwise “accessible” parking spots that do not have the requisite placard. I also have videos of able-bodied individuals unloading their groceries or just visiting for the day. It’s repulsive on so many levels.

    Recently, I dialed the non-emergency police hotline and reported two illegally parked vehicles in the two available Accessible Parking spots in front of our building. I asked the dispatcher to please have the officer come upstairs to meet with me. Instead, the officer came to the building without seeing me and left without ticketing anyone.

    I have this recorded.

    It seems that the likelihood of enforcing the laws decreases dramatically the farther removed an officer (i.e.) is from someone impacted.

    Having performed some minor due diligence and researching the area I now find myself living in, it is my understanding that the law requires at least one accessible space for each lot containing between 1 – 25 total spaces. We have two lots adjacent to the building that are in violation of the New Jersey Barrier Free Subcode and the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.

    However, because our Developer considers himself to be above the law, neither lot contains any sort of Accessible Parking.

    Furthermore, if I understand your article correctly, a residential facility is covered under Title III of the ADA if, for instance, it has a rental office that offers parking open to people other than residents and/or their guests. If that’s the case, then this is a clear violation of federal law.

    When I spoke to the local Police Department, they informed me that they had a memo from the City stating that because it is “private property”, that only Building Management can report a violation. What does someone do when it’s Building Management who is in violation and provokes violation of these laws?

    A dear friend of mine cannot visit me because he has a significant commute and is concerned that the available spots will be taken illegally or that he will not be able to exit his vehicle because the ramp is blocked. This has already been the case before. What can I do? Who can I speak with?

    This is an unashamed disregard for persons with disabilities. Is there a powerful body I can speak with that will act quickly? Are there any attorneys out there who might offer their assistance? Any government officials willing to do what’s right? If people with disabilities do not speak up, they will lose this battle every time.

    I look forward to your timely reply.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Charlie-

      Federal law applies just as much on private property as it does on public property – and it’s up to your management company to enforce it using towing options. It’s DEFINITELY against the law for them to encourage people to use the parking spots who aren’t eligible for them. It’s very hard to prove that they’re at fault for telling people this is OK, but less difficult to prove that people are parking in those spots who shouldn’t.

      In New Jersey, the state Department of Justice is responsible for investigating systematic violations of the ADA like what’s taking place in your property; they’ll take action if they find that it’s warranted. If you have evidence like photos, I would put it all together and give the New Jersey DoJ a call; they’ll tell you what to do. Their page is here and their phone number is 973-645-2700.

      In the event that they can’t (or don’t) do anything, I would then contact your mayor, who should also have some sway over this kind of unethical and illegal behavior. But the DoJ should be your first port of call if the management company themselves are breaking the law. If they don’t, and your mayor is uninterested, then try the local press, which can be very effective in shaming malfeasance. No one wants to have their name in the papers over violations of federal law. The public is often responsible for advocating for people with disabilities in cases like this – usually, the DoJ doesn’t know about systematic abridgment of disabled people’s rights until someone tells them! Let us know how it goes. I wish you the best of luck.

  26. jack says:

    I live in a condo in stuart fl.i have a motorcycle and have been discriminated aganist bringing it in and parking it in my own parking space..i do have a handicap sticker..under the ada is there anything i can do..
    thank you

    • Conrad Lumm says:


      If you have an accessible parking sticker, you’re absolutely permitted to park in an accessible parking space when it’s in a public area. Unless your property managers have a rule against motorcycles in general, they definitely can’t treat you differently. (I’m not even entirely 100% sure that it’s legal to pass rules against motorcycles on private property.) The onus should be on your property’s managers to show you what part of the law or their property’s rules you’re breaking. If they can’t, your next step is to file a housing discrimination complaint. (You can do that here.) Note that this complaint is related to the Fair Housing Act as well as the ADA – the idea is that by refusing to allow you appropriate access to your domicile, your property’s managers are effectively preventing you from living where you want to based on your disability.

      I would also advise you to call the regional office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has jurisdiction. They may be able to walk you through the process more effectively than I can! Florida is covered by the Atlanta office, and their phone number is (800) 440-8091.

  27. Mika says:


    I have a question concerning parking issues. I live in a gated community in Michigan that allows public access and parking. The residents do not have any assigned parking so the spaces are pretty much first come first serve. There are 2 handicapped spaces near my residence, however they are usually filled by visitors who do not have a placard or handicapped signage in/on their vehicles. I have a valid placard but I usually have to park somewhere and walk to get to my apartment because of these spaces and all surrounding spaces being filled. The leasing office has sent 2 memos to residents in the past year warning that vehicles in handicapped spots without a placard will be towed, but nothing ever happens. What recommendations do you have in this situation? Can assigned parking be enforced? Please advise, thank you.

    • Samantha Bendernagel says:

      Hi, Mika. The Directory of Accessible Housing states that it is necessary to provide every tenant with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a unit at the complex. Therefore, we recommend that you do two things. First, speak with your landlord because it sounds like the community should grant the accommodation and reserve you an accessible parking space. Secondly, if people without placards continue to park in handicapped spaces, they can face a minimum fine of $100 and a maximum fine of $250; you can call the tow company yourself if the other residents continue to ignore the memos issued by the leasing office. For more information, you may visit the Directory of Accessible Housing or contact the Michigan Department of Housing and Urban Development and file a Housing Discrimination Complaint Form if your community continues to not comply. Good luck!

  28. ruth hardy says:

    Previously, I lived in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey, and when they built a new A&P, the parking lot included one lane for persons with disabilities which had a lovely awning stretching over the length of it. So, if you could back in, and had a back loading van, you could load and unload your mobility device, as well as your groceries, protected from rain, sleet etc. Here in Cincinnati, where I live now, a huge new Kroger expansion is being built, and I’d like to suggest a similar area of covered parking spaces for persons with disabilities, but I haven’t been able to find a photo to include with my request. Can you help? Thank you

  29. M says:

    In Miami, in a just residential building:

    -Not enough parking spaces. For most apartments, just 1 assigned parking spot.
    -Some “Disabled” people (some with handicapped signs expired, some with signs not expired but who run at gym several miles/day, some with disabled signs but no number on it) are using their assigned conventional parking spots plus the Handicapped parking spot!! They have been using 2 spots for several years.
    Management does nothing, some are tenants of members of Board of Directors.

    -Who should I contact in order to apply law against unscrupulous people who want to take advantage of Laws who protect Disabled people?
    -In the case a parking spot is used/assigned to a real legal handicapped person, does his/her assigned conventional parking space could be freed and used according to condo rules?
    -Who should I contact in order to raise a claim against unscrupulous board of directors, without having to pay a lawyer?

    Thank you

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, M- Long story short, when you contract with the management company, any agreement you sign alongside your lease and/or purchasing contract is what ends up as the fulcrum for legal cases like this. The Fair Housing Act is the piece of law that tells management companies and HOA boards of directors what they can and can’t do, and for that, you would definitely have to contact a lawyer. I can’t tell you how many parking spots you should be allotted – that’s down to any legal agreements you signed when you took over your property, though those agreements are affected by the FHA’s requirements.

      At the same time, accessible parking is only for people with disabilities and current, valid placards, so if they’re allowing other people to park in these spots, they leave themselves open to lawsuit. This is a frustrating situation, no doubt, and property managers are required to adhere to Federal law and to enforce it by having a plan for when people park illegally. Failing to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate a disability is a violation of the Fair Housing Act (see 760.23(9)(b). Sounds like these guys might be violating other sections, too.)

      The Atlanta office of the Dept of Housing & Urban Development is responsible for investigating complaints in Florida; I would call them at (800) 440-8091. You can also file a complaint here. I honestly have never personally seen one of these cases through so I don’t know how good they are about investigating.

  30. Dan Kattwinkel says:

    Hi, my wife,and I are both permanently disabled,and had to resort to living in a apartment complex since we can’t even take care of doing yard work. We have spoke with the Management Group,and they refuse to supply this building with 2 handicap parking spaces,and / or refuse to even give designated parking spaces. The concrete parking lot is all torn up,and the building has 10 units in it with 20 parking space total ( no guest parking ) surrounding it. Our disabilities are so bad that if my wife or I fall we can be permanently paralyzed. When we moved in we were told by the Management Group that there were no other tenants in this building that were / are handicaped but the still refused to supply use with 2 handicap spots and this building only has one entrance. Guest are always visiting other tenants and taking the closest spaces to the one entrance, and sometimes for days on end. We have documatation from both our neurological surgeons, pain management, and we also do have permanently disabled plates and plaqes in the front window. Can you, or someone tell us our rights of what they ( by law ) have to supply us with or at least tell us how or who to contact so we may resolve this issue ? Are we entitled too 2 handicap parking spaces ? This has been a ongoing issue since we moved in here on October 15th 2014,and here it is Feburary 26th 2015 and I have fallen twice over the winter due to ice and there lack of cleaning the sidewalk and parking spaces. Thank you so much.

    • Samantha Bendernagel says:

      Hi, Dan. I’m sorry to hear that you and your wife are having such a difficult time. The Fair Housing Act states that your apartment complex must provide accessibility and usability for all residents to ensure them an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises. A minimum of two percent of the parking spaces in the complex must be made accessible, and they must also be located on a safe, accessible route. If the Management Group continues to not comply, I suggest contacting the Ohio Department of Housing and Urban Development and filing a Housing Discrimination Complaint Form. Best of luck, and hopefully this will be resolved soon!

  31. Dan Kattwinkel says:

    I failed to mention in my question / comment that we do live in Ohio and the Management Groups name is Pinnacle Management Group.

  32. Heather says:

    Hello! I live in Maryland and an about to settle on buying a condo. I have a disability that requires me to use a wheelchair, and I therefore use a handicap van with a wheelchair ramp (I have the appropriate tags as well). As I was visiting the condo on several occasions, I noticed that the two handicap spots provided had been taken (assuming they’re current residents). A month ago I reached out to the management company and asked the board of directors if they could add an additional handicap spot with the appropriate white-striped area for my wheelchair ramp. I received the following response from them today:

    “There are NO assigned parking spaces, that being said we would hope that the residences would respect her needs, but we can not add any additional spaces. Unfortunately there are too many people that are given handicap hanging tags that have no business with them but enforcement is almost impossible. From what I have been told, unless the disabled person is in the vehicle at the time it is parked they are in violation but it’s hard to prove unless you take a picture and contact MVA.”

    I replied back stating that I would attempt to talk to my neighbors once my settlement is finalized and I begin moving in, however, it is illegal to assume that a person does/does not have a disability even if they have a hanging tag. With that being said, if current residents require a handicap spot as well, it is within ADA and FHA rules that additional spots may be required.

    Am I correct in this respect? Is there any supporting documentation that I can provide them to support my reasoning? Thank you! 🙂


    • Samantha Bendernagel says:

      Hi, Heather. Yes, you are correct. If additional spaces are needed as a reasonable accommodation to a resident then additional accessible parking spaces may be required to ensure them the equal opportunity to use and enjoy the space. This is listed under the Fair Housing Act’s design and construction requirements. (Read the last sentence of the “Parking Spaces” section to management.) If they continue to not comply, you should contact the Maryland Department of Housing and Urban Development and file a Housing Discrimination Complaint Form. Best of luck!

  33. Carol says:

    Due to a visual pain issue I was unable to read all of this, or the comments/?’s so I apologize if already asked.
    I am in an apartment building. I have a disabled license plate. I asked for a handicapped spot (there are none) and was told it would cost me 40$ and anyone could park there who has a handicap placard or license (that part of course always true anywhere)
    Is this permitted under Pa. law that they can charge me to make the space and then after I pay make it accessible for all with handicapped tag/placard?
    Thank you.

    • Samantha Bendernagel says:

      Hi, Carol. Your apartment building is legally obligated under the Fair Housing Act to make at least two percent of its parking spaces accessible and also provide an accessible route into the complex for residents and visitors. Therefore, it seems as though you shouldn’t have to pay any sort of fee, unless perhaps you wanted to reserve a spot to ensure that no other placard holders park there. If your building continues to not comply, you should contact the Pennsylvania Department of Housing and Urban Development and file a Housing Discrimination Complaint Form. Best of luck!

  34. Pamela Ambriz says:

    I live in a apartment building I am handicap the only Handicap places are two places in the front of the office there are NO other Handicap places to park is this legal??

    • Debbie Moore says:

      Hi, Pamela!

      It depends on the layout of your apartment and the office. Some buildings get exceptions and don’t have any required parking at all (think low-rise apartment buildings in New York City).

      I can tell you one thing with certainty, though – if your apartment supplies non-reserved parking for able-bodied residents, then they are required to have accessible parking that’s as close as possible to your building’s entrance.

  35. Shirley says:

    I Live in an 88 unit townhomes complex about 8 months old in Va .How far should a handicap spot be place from the person requesting it? We have no handicaps spots on any of the front 9 blds but in the back near the doggie park they have three,My apartment manager said they are not required to put them near my house is this true? I have a disabled child sn many days there are no parks and trying to explain this to her is not working .We have a decal but no space.please help

    • Samantha Bendernagel says:

      Hi, Shirley. The Fair Housing Act states that your apartment complex must provide accessibility and usability for all residents, which includes an accessible route into the complex. A minimum of two percent of the parking spaces in the complex must be made accessible with a minimum of one accessible parking spot at each site amenity. If your apartment manager continues to not comply, you should contact the Virginia Department of Housing and Urban Development and file a Housing Discrimination Complaint Form. Best of luck, and hopefully this will be resolved soon!

  36. Lorenan nunez says:

    I Live in a very large apartment complex and theirs only one handicapped parking space but it has restrictions “only for leasing office use” if the tenants park during office hours we can get towed. Can they restrict the use of the parking ?

    • Samantha Bendernagel says:

      Hi, Lorenan. The Fair Housing Act states that your apartment complex must provide accessibility and usability for all residents. A minimum of two percent of the parking spaces in the complex must be made accessible, and they must also be located on an accessible route. Therefore, if additional accessible spaces are needed to accommodate both residents and office employees then your complex may be required to build them. To learn more, you can alway contact your state Department of Housing and Urban Development. Good luck!

  37. Karen Banda says:

    I’m trying to find out if it’s legal for a municipality to charge a fee to designate a disabled parking place for one car. I live in Bloomfield NJ and just learned that our town will specify a spot for one particular car for a charge of $50/yr and must be renewed each year. That sounds punitive to me but I’m having a hard time finding information pertaining to this issue and the state of NJ. Can you enlighten me please?

    • Samantha Bendernagel says:

      Hi, Karen. Yes, the town is allowed to grant what is called an enumeration of spaces. In other words, this means that they may designate restricted parking spaces only for holders of special vehicle identification cards issued by the Motor Vehicle Commission. No other person is permitted to park in these spaces. However, we are unsure about the the annual $50 fee that you mentioned. That being said, you can always contact the Bloomfield Parking Authority to see what their parking fees and regulations are. Best of luck, and we hope you find the information you’re looking for!

  38. Edward Cosme says:

    In a apartment complex with 126 units each building has 12 apt how many spaces are to be assigned ? Also Are the owners obligated to install parking for persons with temporary parking permit ? ( Red Permit ).

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Edward – I can tell you what the minimum number of required accessible parking spots is if you tell me what city you’re in.

      Policy on temporary parking permits is determined on a municipal basis, and I definitely can’t tell you that – you’d have to check with whatever authority sells or gives out the permits.

  39. Ed says:

    I live in a mixed use building with 10 commercial units and 30 apartments (built pre 1991). There is a 60 car lot with 3 handicapped parking spaces, there is an additional handicapped metered parking space on the street in front. The lease states “parking is on a first come first serve” basis. Can I (With a H/C plate) request a reserved handicapped parking spot for my exclusive use? Does the landlord have to provide me with the space?

    • Samantha Bendernagel says:

      Hi, Ed. Yes, the Directory of Accessible Housing states that it is necessary to provide every tenant with an equal opportunity to use and enjoy a unit at the complex. Therefore, it seems that your landlord should grant the accommodation and reserve you an accessible parking space. For more information, you may visit the Directory of Accessible Housing or research the Fair Housing Act. Good luck!

  40. Breazea says:

    Is it legal for an apartment complex to block the handicap parking in its entirely? The apartment complex is fixing the pool and the handicap area is blocked completely but there are non-handicap spaces that they could use but they are blocking the handicap parking spaces. Is that legal in anyway?


    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Breazea: There are exceptions, but if by blocking those spots, less than 2% of the entire complex’s parking is designated as accessible, then it means that your landlord is violating the Fair Housing Act. The law doesn’t recognize a difference between blocking accessible parking and failing to provide it in the first place. A lawyer could very easily write a letter reminding your landlord of their obligations under the Fair Housing Act (or you could do this yourself – it doesn’t have to come from a lawyer!). You will find some details here.

  41. Greg says:

    Hello. I live in Midland Texas at Trinity Place Apartments. The apartments I live in require permits to park under the carport. This week my mother came to visit, she is disabled, and i realized the only handicap space near my apartment was under the carport. I told her to park there, as she is disabled. The nect morning her car was towed. I just want to know how can they require a parking permit to park in a handicap space. The manager, who showed no empathy towards the 300 dollar towing fee i had to pay said, they offer open handicap spaces around the propety and that if the space would have been taken she would have had to park somewhere else anyways. I just don’t understand that logic and am trying to find out, was she wrong for parking there?

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Greg- The Fair Housing Act allows landlords a lot of latitude in how they handle parking in private lots (and the private sections of lots that have both public and private parking). That spot under the carport was most likely placed there to serve a specific tenant who needs an access aisle or something, so by letting your mom park there, you were effectively taking a spot reserved for someone else. While there’s no law that says that he has to charge you, the towing company probably billed your management for the tow, leaving him with little choice – fine you or eat the fee. The fact remains that there’s probably someone else living in the property who has a disability and is paying for that spot specifically because it’s close to their residence. Your landlord is required to take that person’s needs into account, too. Unfortunately, if I’m understanding everything correctly, I think you’re out of luck on this one.

  42. John Williams says:

    Hi, question about a apartment complex in Florida.

    The complex has gates (key card activated, and usually broken) that are to be closed from 8 pm-8 am. There are approximately 30 “visitor” spots inside the gates for non resident use in the 250-300 spot parking lot. The complex was built in the late 2000s.

    The community declared via email this week, that between the hours of 8 pm-8 am, when the lot is full (which is every night) the available disabled parking spots may be used by any resident.

    Is this legit?

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, John! That’s a tricky one. I’ll explain why.

      The ADA’s required accessible parking standards only apply to places of public accommodation – that is, places that anyone can go into or out of. If the property is behind a gate (regardless of whether it works or not), then it’s presumably private, and a different set of laws apply, the Fair Housing Act, or FHA for short.

      Although I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice, under the FHA, 2% of all parking must be accessible. As long as 2% of your complex’s parking is still accessible, then your landlord can run the rest of it as he or she sees fit. If this policy leaves no accessible parking, though, then that’s a violation of the FHA.

      Note also that landlords are required to make “reasonable accommodations” to provide accessible facilities. Courts have been quite generous in their interpretation of what’s reasonable, so it’s possible that if your current situation is an inconvenience, you should be able to write a letter requesting that they restripe a spot for you. I would do this in writing, keeping a copy for your records. If possible have it notarized so that if you need to, you can submit the copy as evidence that you made the request and your landlord failed to follow through.

  43. Connie says:

    I live in California. My boyfriend was assigned a handicap spot in the apartment complex that we reside. Last week a car parked in his spot. We notified management and they said they would check into it and notify the driver. A few days ago a different car was parked in the handicap spot. I emailed the property manager and informed them that another vehicle was in the handicap spot and this vehicle did not have the proper handicap signage. I therefore went straight to the manager and discovered that new residents moved in and they were assigned my boyfriend’s spot! A staff person made the statement that the new resident did mention that my BF’s spot was a handicap spot and she said it was ok that the new resident could park in that spot. They failed in their record keeping in their files that this space had been assigned to my BF. The manager assigned a new location to my BF, but my BF is not happy with the outcome. What can we do? It annoys me that the new residents can park in the handicap spot when there are plenty of spots available nearby and my BF is being bumped from his original spot.

  44. Daylene says:

    Hi .. We live in California in apartment/town homes . We have a disabled place card for my son and there is a first come first serve parking spot that is right by our back gate. People complained about us saying that we “monopolize” the space and now our landlord is saying that it is for everyone and that we can not claim it. We leave daily and come back and park there every time it is open. How can someone complain about that and is there something we can do since there is handicap parking and That is the closest spot for us ?

    • Debbie Moore says:

      Hmm. Daylene, first of all, this is not legal advice, but under the Fair Housing Act, if there aren’t enough accessible parking spots in your lot to account for all permanent residents, it’s up to your management company to create enough until they’re meeting demand. It’s not fair for them to put this on you. I would remind the management company that although they may be meeting the legal minimum ratio of accessible parking spots, if they have more residents with disabilities than spots, it’s still on them to restripe until everyone who needs one has one. I can see two potential solutions:

      (1) Encourage the other residents who are blaming this problem on you to file a request for reasonable accommodation (there’s a little information on this here). If the management company ignores it, you and the other residents should file complaints with the local office of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

      (2) Inform the property managers yourself that they are legally required to create new accessible parking until they are meeting demand for all permanent residents – not just until they’re meeting the legal minimum. Please review this document, which discusses federal fair housing law. It isn’t a legal document, but it’s accurate, to the best of my knowledge.

      Also make your management company aware that unjustly denying a reasonable accommodation in California can carry considerable penalties, like this $1 million settlement!

  45. SHELBY says:

    So my question is……. Can an apartment building make you have one of their parking passes to park in a marked handicap parking space when you already have a handicap place card? At my apartment you can only park in the handicap spot from 6am-9pm unless you also have one of their parking passes or they tow your car. I live in Washington state. Hope you can answer my question. Thank you, Shelby.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Shelby! That’s an easy one – the property’s management can limit the amount of time you can spend in the accessible parking spot, but only if they do the same thing for the other parking spots. They can’t make a decision that disadvantages people who need accessible parking relative to people who don’t.

      In other words, you CAN charge people with disabilities for parking spots if you’re charging other people, too. You CAN’T charge people for disabled parking but give it to able-bodied people for free, or limit the amount of time you can spend in disabled parking spots but let able-bodied people stick around for as long as they like, and so on.

  46. yessy says:

    Hi I live in Miami, Florida. I live in a condo unit where the property management has limited the time in the HD parking spots to a maximum of 2 hours, this applies to both residents and visitors. There are no time limitations on any of the other parking spots. Is this legal? and if it isn’t how do I go about getting this reported or fixed?

  47. Taylor says:

    I live in North Carolina in a townhome/condo community. We have very limited parking in that there are not even enough spots for each unit to have two cars. Fortunately, this only becomes an issue when there are guests or visitors as there are a lot of units that only have one resident. We do not have assigned spots, and our home owners association states that our parking policy is a “courtesy” parking policy. It states that each resident should use one spot nearest to their unit and that if they have additional parking needs that spaces which are not in regular use or that are further from the building should be used.

    Recently one resident, who is my neighbor, complained that she was not able to park in a spot closest to her unit. We are at the end of the building, so our 4 units only have 4 parking spots directly in front of them, but a whole line of parking is directly behind those spots.

    Since we do not have assigned parking the board stated that there was nothing that they could do. She then came back stating that she had a handicap parking placard and that they had to provide her a handicap parking spot. The designated handy man in the neighborhood did not do any research, and ordered a sign and put it in front of one of the parking spaces in front of my unit. The only designation of this as a handicap spot is the metal sign. The board has also refused to take down the sign, or move it where it is centrally located for anyone with a placard to use. Essentially this has assigned a spot for my neighbor, since the space is only convenient for her, since we are on the end of the building.

    I went to the board with my concerns stating that if the intention was to provide handicap parking that the sign should be convenient to all units and centrally located. Along with other concerns, such as the neighbor asking others with handicap placards to move as it was “her” spot. The board has decided to leave the handicap sign in front of the spot and has sent a letter telling residents that anyone with a handicap placard can park there.

    My questions are can the board state that they are trying to provide handicap parking for the community when this sign is not conveniently located for anyone that does not live on the end of the building? Is this handicap parking sign enforceable by police and towing companies?

    Thank you for any insight that you can give.

  48. cari says:

    We have 2 handicap spots in our townhouse complex. The two people that park there have the placards but they do not drive the vehicles, they sit for there for weeks or months at a time. Each of these people also have 4 or more vehicles, and they have a two car garage, can we limit the amount of time they leave their vehicle there? These spots are not available to guests since they are always occupied by the owners.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Cari!

      That’s a tough situation. If those spots are public parking – meaning, they’re there to be used for guests, residents, or any member of the public who wants to park there, interchangeably – then it’s up to the lot owner to establish a policy about how long cars may stay. There are precedents for cars abandoned in public and private lots being towed, but the property managers would have to check with your state DOT or local DMV to find out what the guidelines are where you live; there’s a lot of variation in towing policy at the state and local levels.

      If you yourself require accessible parking and have a placard of your own, then you can request that your property management company create new accessible parking for you. They are almost always required to do so under the FHA and ADA, provided the building is newer than 1991, and provided it doesn’t seriously damage their finances (and courts have set the bar very, very high for that – restriping isn’t considered a huge burden). They are also required under federal law to respond in detail to your request.

      If you don’t have a placard, and you want more spots for guest use only, you could request that your property managers or landlord create them, but unfortunately they’re not obliged to do so. It sounds like your neighbors are exploiting a loophole in the ADA/FHA’s accessible parking guidelines, which assume that public accessible parking won’t end up being people’s permanent spots.

  49. jose hernanadez says:

    hi I live on apartment complex of 75 units and only one handicap parking space abouyt 100 yards away from my apartment we are aroun 10 tenants whit handicap license plates I request the office manager the popsibility to place one more whith van accessible and her answer whas no we don’t need any more what can l doo

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Jose-

      Put it in writing. Explain to your property managers why you need more parking, and a detailed account of what the impact of not having enough accessible parking is on you – any difficulties you face due to not having parking appropriate to your disability. Include a photocopy of your accessible parking placard. Send a copy of your request for additional accessible parking to your state’s Department of Justice (and in your letter, mention that you’re doing that.) Be careful not to sound hostile – it doesn’t pay off. Usually these people just don’t know the law very well, which is OK – they’re not lawyers.

      Under many (though not all) circumstances, it’s a violation of the Fair Housing Act and/or ADA for property owners not to install additional accessible parking on request if it’s needed. They are also supposed to respond within about two weeks. If they engage in any retaliatory activity due to your request – like threatening you, your livelihood or your living situation in any way – that is a further violation of federal law.

      Good luck.

  50. Jim Pettis says:

    I live in Spokane, Washington. The apt complex where I live plans on locking all the side doors from the outside so no one can come in that way. They then are going to charge anyone who parks near the main doors $25. Fee for parking away from these doors will be $10 to $15. A lot of those parking spots are marked for handicapped. So the handicapped will be charged more then the others. My question is “can they legally do that’??

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Jim- They absolutely cannot. That’s a discriminatory act. They can charge more for non-accessible spots that happen to be close to the main door, but they can’t charge more for accessible spots for being accessible (which makes them close to the main door, by definition). People who require accessible parking don’t have a choice between parking close to or far from the entrance.

      Give me a day or two to find some legal citations — I’ll be back shortly to back up this interpretation of the Fair Housing Act.

      • Conrad Lumm says:

        Hi, Jim, I looked into it, and the answer is less clear than I’d hoped. Note that we’re not lawyers and this isn’t legal advice. It might be worth it to take this landlord to court, but the outcome isn’t assured.

        As a starting point, the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(2), makes it illegal “to discriminate against any person … in the provision of services or facilities in connection with such dwelling” because of a person’s handicap. As part of the FHA, landlords have to make reasonable accommodations for the disabled, including modifying parking policies to allow residents “equal opportunity to use and enjoy” their housing. 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B); see also Shapiro v. Cadman Towers, Inc., 51 F.3d 328 (2d Cir. 1995).

        But there’s a catch: the courts explicitly decide on a case-by-case basis whether particular parking fees charged to the disabled violate the Fair Housing Act. United States v. California Mobile Home Park Management Co. I, 29 F.3d 1413, 1418 & n.4 (9th Cir. 1994); Becker v. Orchard Hills Apartments, 11-CV-5108 (E.D.Wash. Aug. 29, 2012).

        The five factors courts look at are:
        (1) How much is the fee or fee differential?
        (2) What is the relationship between the fees and the overall cost of housing?
        – An extra $15 per month doesn’t seem like a big deal in NYC, but in Spokane you can get a 1-bedroom for under $500/month, so courts might consider it more substantial there.
        (3) What proportion of tenants are paying those fees?
        – Another complication is if specific parking spaces are assigned.
        (4) How important are the fees to the landlord’s overall revenues?
        – In a city where you can rent alone for under $500 a month, the loss of parking revenue might actually burden the landlord.
        (5) How important is the fee waiver to the disabled tenant?
        – The disabled person’s financial status actually matters when doing this analysis.

        For these reasons, I don’t think we can give an unequivocal answer. The law in this area is really, really dependent on the specific facts. After all, the plaintiff in California Mobile Home sued her landlord to waive a $25/month parking fee, and the landlord won after ten years of litigation. United States v. California Mobile Home Park Management Co. II, 107 F.3d 1374 (9th Cir. 1997)

  51. Ashley says:

    I have a question I moved into an apartment in March that is handicap accessible, I don’t have a permit but I do have an assign spot. For the first ever I parked last night only because other parking spaces closer to my house was full. My neighbor next to me is handicap and she uses the spot often. Long story short my car was towed. I called the rental office they said there was nothing they could do. I should have ask to get the sign taken down, which I didn’t know. What would be my rights

    • Debbie Moore says:

      Your rights are these, Ashley: you can probably get your car back once you pay any relevant fines or fees. The apartment building is required under federal law to have accessible parking, and they certainly shouldn’t remove it at the convenience of people without disabilities – that’s why the law exists.

  52. HnJ says:

    I have several questions, but do not wish to discuss them publicly. Is there another way we could discuss these issues?

  53. Kay M says:

    I own a condo in Georgia, my building has 6 units,4 of them are accessed from the same breezeway. Our building shares the same culdesac with 4 other buildings with 6-8 units each and no one has assigned parking. Our HOA said I have to pay for signage and painting for a handicap spot BUT when I bought my condo, there were 2 HP 2 spots at our breezeway that have since been painted over.
    Our rules state that the homeowner is responsible for the cost of adding and removal of the signage but no one in my breezeway ever requested removal of the original HP spots from 10 years ago. Our place was built in 1985/86 & it is possible another lady in an upper unit will soon need a spot herself.
    Is our HOA allowed to charge me for the signage even though they can’t enforce the guest from using the HP spot? We already have an issue with guest not parking in designated areas and I’ve seen guest vehicles use other resident handicap spots at other buildings.

  54. JR says:

    Hello – my question concerns the requirement for non-public buildings (in this case, a building owned and operated by the United States Postal Service as a carrier routing facility – no customer or public access allowed) providing handicap-parking spaces. Just wondering if in this instance the space(s) are required by the ADA act, or not? Thank you for any information you might be able to provide.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      You’ve asked whether the Postal Service is required to provide accessible parking under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Technically, the answer is no, because the Americans with Disabilities Act doesn’t apply to the Postal Service. In practice, however, the U.S. Access Board, which sets the accessibility standards for government facilities, has made a point of holding the government to the same standards as private employers under the Architectural Barriers Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 4151 et seq.), and the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. §§ 701 et seq.). Under section 208.2 of the Architectural Barriers Act guidelines, the amount of required accessible parking depends on the size of the parking facility, as follows:

      Total number of parking spaces Accessible spaces required
      1 to 25 — 1
      26 to 50 — 2
      51 to 75 — 3
      76 to 100 — 4
      101 to 150 — 5
      151 to 200 — 6
      201 to 300 — 7
      301 to 400 — 8
      401 to 500 — 9
      501 to 1000 — 2 percent of total
      1001 and over — 20, plus 1 for each 100, or fraction thereof, over 1000

  55. Donna says:

    I am disabled . My husband is also he still has mobility and assists me. We live in a condo . Our only door opens to a short sidewalk to the drive which happens to be the entry to the complex . The curbs are yellow and there are 2 sets of speed bumps. For me to get in the car and get out , my husband needs to stop , put car in park and help me either from condo to car and help getting in , or reverse ,help out of car and up to condo and in. So far there has been no complaint but we are concerned it could be an issue.

  56. Rick newton says:

    I live in an apartment complex in leesburg fl. One of the residents in my building decided on her own that one handicap spot was not enough so she got a handicap sign from someplace and stuck it in the ground and left a note on my car that said if I didn’t move it she would have it towed. The is one handicap spot in the parking lot which has 16 spots for 12 units. What law is she violating.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Rick! This zealous-sounding person isn’t violating any laws, but definitely speak with your property’s management about whether or not the person in question has the owners’ permission to change parking policy. After all, I can call myself the queen of Denmark, but it doesn’t have the force of law unless the Danes agree. If your landlords are aware that the person added accessible parking and she did it with their permission, then you can’t park there, and either she or the property’s owners can have you towed. If she didn’t have their permission, then they should be responsible for clearing up the situation with her. This isn’t something you really need to be involved in at all.

  57. Anita Villa says:

    As a disabled person, since I don’t have a car, parking spaces isn’t not a problem. But speed bumps is a problem. Whenever I go out, a car is parked to end side of the speed bumps, I tried to find another out in the other end of the speed bumps by going around it. I’ve to management of the apartment. Going over speed bumps is thick in hight. There are apartments that their sidewalks is not wheelchair accessible.

    Miss Villa

  58. sarah says:

    I work at a property management group in Virginia and I have someone who is inquiring about a unit. They are disabled and require wheelchair accessibility however I don’t currently have any of those available. They were looking into another unit on the first floor however there is no ramp leading from the parking lot onto the sidewalk. Are we required to put a ramp in for accessibility?

  59. Dave says:

    I live in a large apartment complex in Tacoma, WA. There is one assigned parking spot per unit with a fair amount of visitor parking. The apartment that was available and the one that we signed a lease for is a unit that has been designed for handicapped tenants. We have 4 units in our building with 4 parking spaces. Two of the four parking spaces have been painted with a handicapped symbol. One of the handicapped spaces is assigned to apartment #4 which is on the 2nd level and only stairs are provided to reach the 2nd level. There is no elevator and apartment #4 is not a handicapped unit. The tenant does not have a handicapped sticker or card hanging from his mirror. This tenant is now moving so I asked the management that since I live in one of the two handicapped apartments could I be reassigned the handicapped parking space. They said no that the parking spaces had been assigned years ago and that they could not be changed. I said that when they resurfaced the parking lot/spaces this summer, why did they repaint the handicapped symbols in parking spaces that are not for handicapped tenants. I was very rudely told that they will not change it for me. Is there a law or guideline that is not being followed by the management here at Northpoint Apartments in Tacoma, WA?

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Dave- I’m looking into this and will get back to you next week. Sorry it’s taken so long. 🙂

  60. Jefferson Eng says:

    We live in a bedroom community in the southeastern region of PA. My mom has COPD and, with her shortness of breath, she can’t walk far distances without great difficulty. This is also compounded due to the fact that our apartment is on a third floor walkup and there’s no elevator access–only stairs. She has a state-issued window display placard for permanent handicapped access.

    The apartment complex was more or less built back in the 1960s and it has a total of three buildings and about 60+ living units in all. The parking lot is situated that there are no assigned spaces so it is on a “first-come, first-served” basis only.

    There are only two designated handicapped spots. One is just outside the entrance for the property manager’s office and is oftentimes empty. The other one is right outside the entrance used for access to our apartment unit. This one is permanently filled by another tenant who is downstairs of us and she also has a state-issued window placard for permanent handicapped access. This is not a problem per se as it is being rightfully used as such, but our downstairs neighbor does not use her vehicle anymore. So, it sits mockingly in the only available parking space designated as handicapped.

    Meanwhile, due to the vagaries of my mom’s working schedule and work location distance from home, she often cannot be able to even reach home on a daily basis until after 7:30 or 8pm…sometimes closer to 9 or 10pm at times. Other tenants have a more firm schedule for their daily activities and we’ve found that usually by 6/6:30m, the rest of the close-by parking is filled almost to capacity.

    We have tried for years to get property management to install another designated handicapped parking spot, but constant requests seemed to have fallen on deaf ears. We have tried filing complaints with the Human Relations Commission and Disability Rights Network, but they seem to go nowhere.

    Property management seemed to be on the right track earlier this year when they started issuing parking permit stickers to residents in the hops of curtailing the use of spaces by non-residents. So far, though, there has been no evidence of enforcing this new policy, and we’re still in the same status quo.

    A new wrinkle to all this is that there now appears to be another permanent fixture that has been there since around early Spring where there is a large dumpster taking up to around four or five parking spaces near our building. This has put parking at an extra premium and added pressure for my mom to be home in time to find a reasonable parking spot.

    The stress of all this inaction by property management and other agencies has just put my mom into a recent hospitalization health crisis. We are at wit’s end. I really don’t want to drag this into a long, protracted lawsuit.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      This doesn’t constitute legal advice, Jefferson, but for starters, I would definitely take a look at our form for requesting more accessible parking. Although I’m unsure whether your mom’s residence is required to install more, they are required to respond to a request made in writing. Keep a copy for yourself, because if they don’t respond in a timely manner, or they do respond in a manner that isn’t to your liking, your letter may help you in court down the road if you choose to go that route. In general, most property managers want to keep their residents happy, and the costs associated with installing more parking for people with disabilities are very low compared to the high cost of being sued.

  61. Katie Walker says:

    We moved here in Spring Hill Florida about a week ago. We have two parking spaces and one is a handicap parking. Our neighbors who live 3 units down parks in the handicap parking, problem is that it is right in front of our bedroom window. He doesn’t always have a permit because it actually belongs to his wife. We have asked him to park in his own garage but he won’t. Is there something that we can do to stop him from parking there. He removes it when his wife has to leave. He is not disabled..can you help me??

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Hi, Katie- I know Hernando County well, and it’s good to hear from someone from there! Unfortunately, if the parking space isn’t reserved for you, you may be out of luck. If it is a reserved space, you may want to raise the parking issue with the property management or homeowners’ association.

  62. bad things says:

    I am trying to understand how the ADA applies with a privately owned condominium association. We have more than enough handicapped parking spaces, yet recently the association added one more space (in an area way too congested to begin with) and it’s been assigned to one person who lives in the development. How can they do that? When I questioned the Board of Directors, I was told there were new rules regarding this. If everyone who had a handicapped sticker in our development demanded their own handicapped spot, it would be a nightmare. What’s the deal here?

    • Debbie Moore says:

      When it comes to condominiums and privately managed residences, it’s not just about whether there are accessible parking spots, it’s also about whether accessible parking spots are accessible to the residents. If there isn’t any accessible parking near where people with disabilities live, they can formally request a spot to be installed near them, and under the law, owners/management are generally required to do so. If there are tons of accessible parking spots, then it just means that there are a lot of people with disabilities living in your area.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      The Fair Housing Act and the ADA only specify minimum accessible parking requirements, not maximum accessible parking requirements. So, this is a problem that you need to deal with through the condo association, rather than the Americans with Disabilities Act.

  63. Flora Mondecar says:

    Marietta GA, Cobb County, outside of Atlanta. Apartment complex built in the 1970s, I believe it was built to be Section 8 originally, because my 1st floor apt- up 5 steps- is designed for disabled, though this complex is no longer part of that system. I am walking inpaired- leg braces & 2 canes. I have been asking my new apt complex to repaint my fading parking spot for 6 months. And to post a metal sign on a post. They are hedging by saying that ‘the new corporate’ has big plans- which I have seen none of since moving here. They say they’re waiting for the whole parking lot to be repaved. “And looking into what we need to do…” Ugh. In the meantime i am apparently the only one that recognizes the fading blue lines. Without a metal post & sign. After the office closes, it’s a free for all, taken after i go out for the evening. It’s an aggravation when I come home with a car full of groceries! I was verbally assured that spot and that they’d “repaint it if it’s a problem.”
    Could you kindly advise on whom I would contact in my city/ county and if I’m actually legally entitled to a handicapped parking place in my complex? Thank you so much.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Since you’re in Metro Atlanta, the office to contact would be the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Atlanta office at (800) 440-8091.

  64. CG says:

    I live in a townhouse community in Idaho. I live in the furthest townhouse from parking. There is only enough parking for 1 car per unit. I am disabled and was assigned the disabled spot closest to my unit. But they also assigned the wheelchair/loading ramp as a space to a non disabled tenant, and the 2nd disabled space was assigned to another non disabled tenant. There is not enough room for 3 cars to park unless we are completely squeezed in and then are unable to open the doors to get out. I have complained but now managment is assigning me a new spot further away that is not for handicap. What shall I do?

  65. Timberly says:

    My question is this, we live in apt. complex and there are 7 handicap parking spots, we are assigned 1 spot and were just recently told we could only have 2 cars parked in the complex, we have 3 cars and 1 has a handicap placard and we were recently told that we can’t use the handicap parking spot at all. Is that legal? Another issue is there are many people parking in the handicap spots that don’t have placards and management will not do any thing about it. We live in CA.

  66. Valerie V says:

    I was dropping my daughter off at her friends house in Huntington Beach, Ca. They live in a 28 unit building and there is not 1 handicap spot for visitors. Long story short I had to park on the street and they have uneven pavement due to trees uprooting the cement and I fell and had to have knee surgery 2 days later. It was a horrible fall I will be off work 8-12 weeks and on top of that possibly lost my job over it. I am so upset over this if they would have had a handicap spot I could have parked in none of this would have happened.

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      That’s a bummer. We hope you get well soon.

  67. Ven says:

    My question is this…I live in an apartment complex where parking stickers are provided for residents to park so our vehicles do get towed & of course there are visitors parking as well, my mother comes to visit but is handicap, we worry that even though she is not a resident & doesn’t have the parking sticker can she still park in the handicap parking with her handicap permit? I end up moving her car back & forth to handicap parking back to the visitors parking at night & it’s getting annoying & no one can give me a straight answer in the office all they say is its my own risk O.o what kind of bs is that?

    • Ven says:

      I meant DON’T get towed… & also I live in Austin TX

    • Conrad Lumm says:

      Ven, if your mother parks in a resident permit-only accessible space, your mother runs the risk of getting towed. A disabled parking placard doesn’t mean that you can park in spaces reserved for residents, so you’ll have to stick to visitor parking.

  68. Ilya says:

    I live in a condo building of approximately 150 units. My building has a garage for a few cars and also a lot with some spaces that are covered and some that are uncovered. I have a disability and I have an uncovered space. In speaking with other residents, I know that the board and building management are extremely against building coverings for the uncovered spaces, even if the occupants were to pay for them. I was wondering if it’s possible for me to require them to build the coverings under the FHA or ADA, even with me paying for it because it’s very hard for me to shovel out my car, especially if the snow is heavy.

  69. Thomas says:

    Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 fbvlx

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