How to Legally Resolve Parking Disputes with Neighbors

How to effectively address a range of parking issues

By Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on June 3, 2022

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You have just commuted home from work after a busy day. You live in a neighborhood with street parking. Most of the time, finding a spot isn’t a problem. However, your next-door neighbor has two cars plus a small camper and has managed to take up all the parking in front of your house.

And this is not the first time they’ve taken all the space. Because of how your neighbor has parked, you must drive a couple of blocks and spend time searching before you can find a spot.

This is an example of one of the many parking issues that can come up between neighbors. Parking-related problems are often relatively minor compared to many property disputes between neighbors.

However, parking disputes can sometimes become more significant issues, especially when they become persistent. As a property owner, it’s important to know the best way to deal with parking issues, big or small. This article will cover some typical parking problems and present options for dealing with them.

Rules Governing Parking

If you face a parking dispute, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with any local parking regulations. Understanding local parking rules can help you resolve conflicts and avoid further problems. Here are some of the primary sources of parking rules:

  • Local laws. Some local ordinances address parking issues specifically. Zoning laws that regulate the use and development of real estate might also set parking rules for specific areas. Your local government enforces these parking regulations.
  • Homeowners’ association (HOA). If you live in a private neighborhood with an HOA, you probably have another source of parking rules. Look over your HOA’s Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs) for rules about parking spots, allowed vehicles, or other matters. Your HOA enforces these rules. If you live in an apartment complex, you may have similar parking rules to draw on in a dispute.
  • Easements. Suppose you live on a private road in a neighborhood without a homeowners’ association. Can neighbors who own homes on the private road park in the street? In this case, what neighbors can do with the road might be laid out in an easement document. An easement essentially gives someone who doesn’t own property (like the entire private street) certain rights and responsibilities to use it. Check the legal documents that came with your property for rules about using the road.

Parking Issues

Depending on the kind of neighborhood you live in, here are some of the parking problems you could face:

  • A neighbor says you’re in their spot on a public street. Your neighbor is probably wrong about this. Generally, your municipality or state owns public roads. Individuals don’t have property rights in public streets, such as holding a specific parking spot. You have the right to park anywhere you want if it doesn’t violate local parking ordinances.
  • A neighbor parks in front of your house. If you live on a public road, there is probably no issue with your neighbor or their guest parking on the street in front of your house. Parking rules might be stricter if you live in a private neighborhood or have an HOA.
  • A neighbor takes your parking spot. If you live in an apartment complex, condominium, or other planned neighborhood, there may be rules about resident parking spots. Check your neighborhood rules to see if there is assigned parking that your HOA or property manager can enforce.
  • Blocking driveway. If a neighbor’s car is blocking your driveway, your neighbor could be trespassing on your property. If possible, speak with your neighbor about the problem and ask them to move their car. Confronting them could fix the issue in the future as well. However, if they have left the car parked and you can’t reach them and need to leave, consider notifying the police to have the vehicle towed. You might also call the police if your neighbor has repeatedly blocked your driveway,
  • Parking illegally on your private property. If a neighbor parks their car on your property without your permission, they are trespassing. If this is a one-time event, try talking to your neighbor about why it’s an issue. If they continue to park on your property after you’ve asked them not to, consider reporting the matter to the police to have the car towed.
  • A neighbor’s car is taking up two parking spaces. Check your local parking ordinances or HOA rules to see if they prohibit people from taking up two parking spots. If so, your HOA or local parking authorities could enforce these rules against your neighbor.

Steps To Handle Parking Disputes

Here are steps you could take to settle parking disputes with your neighbor:

  • Talk to your neighbor about the problem. If a parking issue comes up, talking it out is always a good first step. Addressing the problem politely but directly can often settle the matter.
  • Write a letter to your neighbor explaining the issue. If you’d rather not talk to your neighbor directly or tried talking but that didn’t work, try writing them a letter about the problem. It may be good to cite local parking ordinances or other rules to explain the issue.
  • Inform your homeowners’ association (HOA). If you have an HOA and your neighbor is violating parking rules, file a complaint with your HOA about the problem so they can enforce the rules.
  • Mediation. If you keep running into parking problems with your neighbor but value the neighbor relationship, consider mediation. In some cases, mediation services can be an effective strategy for dispute resolution.
  • File a complaint. You may need to file a parking complaint with your local parking authorities or the police in some cases. If you do so, consider collecting evidence about the parking violations by keeping a log or taking pictures so you can explain the problem fully.

What Legal Action Can You Take?

When it comes to neighbor disputes over parking, legal action is often the last resort. One of the steps laid out above is often effective in resolving parking issues.

However, in some cases, you may need to go further. If your neighbor keeps trespassing on your property, or if a parking dispute becomes a way your neighbor harasses you, you may consider suing your neighbor.

Depending on your situation, you might sue for money damages in a small claims court or seek an injunction for your neighbor to stop their activity.

Questions for an Attorney

If you face a parking dispute and think you may need to take legal action, getting good legal advice is essential. Many attorneys provide initial free consultations to prospective clients. These meetings are a great resource for both attorney and client because it allows the attorney to hear the facts of the case while the client can determine if the attorney meets their needs.

The best way to decide whether an attorney is the right fit is by asking informed questions. Here are some good questions to ask during your initial conversations:

  • What is your fee, and what options for billing do you offer?
  • What would be my best course of action for settling this dispute?
  • What is the likelihood of success in a lawsuit given my situation and the facts?
  • What are all the legal services you offer?
  • Do you have experience in cases like mine?

Finding the Right Attorney For Your Needs

It is essential to approach the right type of attorney—someone who can give you legal help through your entire case. To do so, you can visit the Super Lawyers directory and use the search box to find a lawyer based on your legal issue or location. 

For legal advice in a parking dispute, you may want to consider looking for a lawyer who practices real estate law.

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