Rental Roundtable
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Real Estate Today

Parking Sticker Issue Could Get Sticky Over Sharing of Privileges

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Robert S. Griswold | Steven R. Kellman | Ted Smith
3-November-2002 Sunday

This column on issues confronting renters and landlords is written by Counselor of Real Estate and Certified Property Manager Robert Griswold, host of Real Estate Today! with Robert Griswold (9 a.m. Saturdays on AM1130 - KSDO radio, or on the Internet at, and by attorneys Steven R. Kellman, director of the Tenants' Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a law firm representing landlords.

QUESTION: I am living in a large apartment complex where the parking rules were recently changed so that no more than two cars per apartment are allowed on the complex. Also, guests no longer are allowed to park on-site and must park on the street even though unmarked spots are open.

Management is issuing two stickers per apartment. Would it be OK to ask a neighbor for one of their stickers and use it? I'm worried it would be considered a sublease and get my neighbor in trouble. Isn't on-site visitor parking allowed? Parking on the street is not safe and far away.

ANSWER: Tenants' attorney Kellman: Most parking rules are governed by the lease contract since it covers your use of private property. Some complexes provide ample parking room while others provide none. The landlord is generally not legally required to provide additional guest parking.

The situation may change, however, if there is clearly ample parking room for visitors, but permission to use that space is being arbitrarily denied. Such overly restrictive regulations can also be seen as a deterrent to having visitors which may then be a violation of your constitutional right to freedom of association.

As to the neighbor, the contract probably allows for each unit to be allowed up to two spaces. Using your neighbor's parking stickers may be beyond the permission granted in the rental agreement and could be seen as an improper sublease of that space as you feared. Check the rental agreement as to the specific permission for parking spaces and see how the rules are being applied.

Also, check the local zoning regulations for that complex since there may be some specific ordinance or other rule or regulation that may force the landlord to loosen up that parking policy.

Property manager Griswold: Now that Steve has covered the legal aspects of your parking situation, let's address the practical considerations. In the last 20-plus years I have managed well over 600 rental properties and could probably count the ones with sufficient on-site parking for both residents and guests on my two hands.

Parking is always a challenge and ironically it is the worst at properties that have garages since no one seems to actually use the garage for their vehicles but rather to store anything and everything but their vehicle. Of course, this means all of those cars are competing for the few remaining open parking spaces.

I would suggest that you contact the management office and obtain written permission to use your neighbor's parking permit. While they have the legal right to deny your request you would avoid the unpleasant surprise of finding your car towed or your neighbor receiving a nasty legal notice threatening their continued tenancy.

My personal policy at properties with parking limitations is to have a policy similar to the two-car-per-apartment rule but allow residents to make their own arrangements regarding unused parking stickers. We do require that management is notified and grants written permission since it is extremely important to accurately track the usage of each sticker to ensure that creative people don't steal or even produce and sell counterfeit parking stickers. (Yes, it does happen.)

When properties have a shortage of parking the issue of guest parking may require management to establish a policy that enhances the on-site parking opportunities for residents. This may include the strict policy of very limited or even no on-site parking for guests.

I believe it is much more important to offer sufficient, well- located parking for paying residents than for some residents who may have guests. If this is a significant problem for you, then you may be well advised to relocate to another apartment community where parking is more abundant.

Dirty deal

Question: I moved into a rental home about two months ago. I paid a security deposit, at which point the homeowner said that when I moved out she would withhold $600 for carpet cleaning. She also indicated that she would withhold this amount even if I had the carpets cleaned. This sounds unreasonable! Can I clean the carpets myself or have them cleaned professionally to avoid this?

Tenants' attorney Kellman: Dirt left in a carpet (or in the rest of the unit) is generally not considered ordinary wear and tear. Your landlord can deduct a reasonable amount from your deposit to cover the cost of cleaning the unit including the carpet. A stain in a defective carpet or other surface is an exception to this rule since it may not be possible to clean it.

Rental agreement provisions that have preset deductions for cleaning are probably not valid and are unenforceable. There is a law that states that residential rental agreements may not waive certain rights you have, including your rights concerning the security deposit.

A rental agreement, however, may have guidelines about what a landlord intends to charge if the unit needs to be cleaned. You have the right to have the unit cleaned on your own to avoid the charges the landlord has told you she intends to charge.

If you clean the unit or carpet yourself, you run the risk she will claim they were not cleaned properly and charge you anyway. It is better to have the unit and carpets professionally cleaned. You can take advantage of any promotional discounts with these services and keep the costs down. She cannot then charge you for that same cleaning again since you will have proof it was properly cleaned.


IF YOU'RE A TENANT OR LANDLORD, the authors stand ready to answer your questions in this column, although letters cannot be answered individually. Write them at: Rental Roundtable, Homes Section, San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O. Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191. Or you may e-mail them at

Copyright Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

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Robert Griswold and the Real Estate Today! radio show strongly support the intent and the letter of all federal and state fair housing laws.  As a reminder to all owners and managers of real estate, note that all real estate advertised is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise "any preference, limitation, discrimination because of race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex, physical disability, or familial status, or  intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination." Additional state and/or local fair housing laws may also apply.  Be sure to inform all persons that all dwellings offered or advertised are on an equal opportunity basis.


Revised and Updated - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Robert S. Griswold, CRE, CPM, CCIM, PCAM, GRI, ARM
Griswold Corporate Center
Griswold Real Estate Management, Inc.
5703 Oberlin Drive, Suite 300
San Diego, CA 92121-1743
Phone: (858) 597-6100
Fax: (858) 597-6161


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