If you own a car or are thinking of getting one while you live in an apartment, you'll need to understand your options for parking the car. If you commit to a rental without giving this much thought, you could be in for unexpected hardship in trying to find a safe, convenient place for your vehicle. To avoid problems, get the answers to key parking questions before you sign an apartment lease.
If Your Building Offers Parking
If the apartment owner or building offers parking on the premises, be sure to ask these key questions before committing to the apartment:
- Is the parking free? If not, how much is each parking space?
- Is a parking space negotiable, or can you offer me an incentive, such as my first month for free?
- Do I pay for parking separately or with my rent?
- Is there more than one parking option?
- Are spaces assigned to each tenant?
- Can I get more than one space if I need it?
- Is there a waiting list for a spot? Can I be put on a waiting list for a better spot?
- If spaces are assigned, what do I do if someone parks in my spot?
- What type of parking facility do you have (e.g., garage, covered, an outdoor lot)?
- How safe and secure is the parking facility (e.g., a parking attendant, security guard, cameras, adequate lighting)?
- Do I need to let someone know if I park a different car in my spot or if a guest uses the spot?
- If you need an accessible spot: Are there spots reserved for people with disabilities? Do these spots have access aisles for wheelchair use? Are there curb cuts on the sidewalk? Can I get a spot closer to the building as a reasonable accommodation for a disability?
If Your Building Doesn't Offer Parking
If an apartment building you're interested in doesn't offer parking, try to get the answers to the following questions. You can probably accomplish this on your own, but a helpful broker, landlord, or current tenant you meet may be able to supply some useful information:
- What kind of parking restrictions are there on the surrounding streets?
- Does a neighboring apartment or office building offer parking to the public?
- Are there municipal lots nearby?
- How much competition is there for parking spots?
- Are there parking garages close by that offer monthly parking at a reasonable rate?
- Are there private homes nearby with owners who offer to "sell" a spot in their driveway? (Check Craigslist for ads placed by homeowners in the neighborhood.)
Tips for Dealing With Parking Problems
If you're ready to move into an apartment that includes a parking space on the premises, ask the landlord about the day-to-day rules of parking and what to do if others violate the rules. In areas where parking is at a premium, it's tempting for residents and visitors to misuse a parking area, and you as a tenant should address problems as soon as they arise.
As the owner of the parking lot, the landlord is responsible for violations of city, zoning, or fire laws in the lot. For example, if residents or visitors are parking illegally and blocking fire lanes, disability access, or other public rights of way. If your landlord fails to enforce parking rules, contact the city department of inspections (or similar authority) to learn about steps you can take to resolve the situation.