Can a parking spot be assigned, rented or purchased?

E.D. writes:

Hi Paul.   Here’s a question that I’ve seen come up from time to time with condos.  Some condos have titled parking and some are assigned.  My understanding is that titled means you own the stall and receive a separate property tax bill accordingly while assigned parking is at the discretion of the board.  Which leads to another question. If a person becomes injured/paralyzed such as me, how would handicapped accessible parking be dealt with?

Paul replies:

Dear E.D.: There could be different types of parking space allocation, all of which will be impacted by local legislation and the governing documents. However, all are under the control of the Board of Directors. This is to say that parking spaces (above or below ground) are the property of the corporation.

Usually, when purchasing a condo unit, it will include one parking space. This does not mean that you own the space, it just means that as a unit owner you can use the space. For example, you purchase unit 216 and you can use (are assigned) space 92. The space is part of common elements and is the property of the condo corporation. If circumstances change, the board could assign you to another spot.

In some markets, especially where parking spots may not match the number of units in the building, a certain number of spaces may be rented or leased to a unit owner for as long as they remain a unit owner. This could be referred to as an “exclusive use” arrangement.

In some markets, condos can sell a parking space the same way a unit is sold. Parking spots are usually purchased along with the condo unit. Most condo corporations insist that only a resident of the building can buy a parking space in that building. Whether or not they have a separate title to the space and have to pay property tax will depend on the applicable legislation and the governing documents. Notwithstanding possible property tax implications, there can be provincial sales tax (PST) and goods and services tax (GST) could also be required. Anyone wanting to purchase a parking spot, should consult a lawyer and carefully review the terms and conditions of the sale. Making a mistake could be costly. The Toronto market has reported parking spaces selling for $5,000 up to a whopping $100,000 in one case.

If a person becomes injured/paralyzed, depending on the legislation in your area, the condo corporation may have an obligation to accommodate that person’s needs. For example, under the Manitoba Human Rights Code, discrimination on the basis of disability is prohibited. I would expect the disabled individual to make a request to the corporation for accommodation – a reserved space closer to the door and wider to accommodate a wheelchair. The obligation would apply even if the parking lot has to be re-designed. If the corporation failed to accommodate, the person would then have to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission who would investigate. A settlement may be suggested during the investigation stage. In the end, if the corporation still refuses to make the necessary changes, the commission could impose a resolution. The only defense a respondent has is that making the accommodation would be so onerous that it would cause the corporation undue hardship. Successful claims of undue hardship for failing to accommodate are rare. A corporation would have to prove that they could go out of business if they did accommodate. Thanks for the question!

NOTE: While this response focused on parking spaces, the same would apply to storage lockers.

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