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Can owners park in the visitors parking? (And other parking lessons from the CAT)

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As our readers certainly know, the Condo Authority Tribunal acquired jurisdiction to rule on parking disputes in October 2020. Since then, the CAT has ruled on about a dozen parking cases. Of these cases, a few dealt with accessible parking spaces, but most spoke to visitor parking disputes and the enforcement of condo rules and policies to deal with such problems.

In this blog post (the penultimate one before the holidays), we discuss a recent parking case where an owner wanted to park in the visitor parking.

Facts of this case

In June 2021, a Toronto condo owner learned that she would no longer  be able to park in the visitor parking when she borrowed a car to do various errands and go to appointments. Having recently had a baby, she preferred attending these by car rather than taking public transportation in the midst of the current pandemic.  Until June, she had been able to get up to two visitor parking passes per week. When the corporation advised that she would not longer be able to park in the visitors parking, she took the matter to the CAT.

The condo corporation indicated that it was simply enforcing compliance with the condo parking rules and that it only had 40 visitor parking spaces for 469 units. Since the condo corporation was located across a busy subway station, it had received numerous complaints from owners demanding parking control.

Of interest, the owner had her own parking space but, since she did not own a car, she was renting it out.  For that reason, when she borrowed cars she had to park in the visitor’s parking.  She argued that such parking was not in breach of the visitors parking rule because the rule prohibited owners from parking their own cars in the visitors parking.  This, she argued, was not her car. The car, she argued, was a visiting car (despite the fact it was being used by an owner, not a visitor).  She also argued that there were many unused spots in the visitor parking and that, as such, her use of them did not pose a problem and should be allowed to continue.

The decision

There were in fact at least 2 rules dealing with parking at the corporation.

  • The first one provided that owners could only park in a parking space they owned (or leased).
  • The second one provided (amongst other things) that owners were not to park on any portion of the common elements, including visitor parking spaces.

The CAT concluded that it was clear that the intent of the rule was to restrict the use of visitor parking to actual visitors/guests.

The CAT also relied on the “business judgment rule”, which provides that deference must be granted to decisions taken by condo corporations as long as these decisions are taken in good faith and as long as they fall within the range of reasonable outcomes.  After all, condo corporations are in the best position to understand  and balance the competing needs and interests of the members of the condo community.

Based on the evidence, the CAT concluded that the corporation was acting in good faith in enforcing its rules based on the limited parking availability and prior issues with the misuse of parking.

Of interest, the CAT concluded that the rule limiting visitor parking to visitors was reasonable in the circumstances.

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