66

Situation

I live in an allotment with a shared parking with assigned spots. One of my neighbours always parks their car in front of the door of my building instead of in their assigned spot. They also have access to the parking but they would never use it, despite the fact that it's not allowed to park in front of the building. The problem is, that the path where they park is not wide enough and so whenever they park in front of the building, it leads to two issues:

  1. Their car blocks some parking spots and therefore prevents people from parking in their spot,
  2. If we already have parked in our assigned spot, their car prevents us from getting out of it.

I used my excellent skills in Paint to make a drawing of the situation:

Drawing of the "parking situation"

What I've tried so far

A year ago, I met them as they were getting out of their car after parking, and so I politely asked them if they had a reason to park here. They told me that their car's suspensions were too fragile to handle the little step that needs to be climbed to go in their assigned spot (the whole parking has such steps). Their explanation didn't make any sense to me (what car is not able to climb a 4cm step?) so I just let it go. They continued parking there since.

I thought of putting a note on their windscreen to tell them they block the way but I found it rude.

There's already been accidents in the allotment. Their car is wrecked of getting bumped and my own landlord bumped their car because it was standing in the way. She warned them (and paid for the damage) and told them not to park there, but they haven't stopped doing it. I can't escalate to their landlord because they own their apartment. Bringing it to joint ownership meetings is a possibility, though (i.e. the allotment residents meetings). We don't have a building manager or common-property manager.

Question

How can I try to get my neighbour to park in their assigned spot instead of blocking the way?

Disclaimer

My landlord told me she thinks this neighbour has OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), but I don't know that for sure since the neighbour never told me themselves. They suspect OCD because of some behaviors of theirs, like stealing the whole building's doormats to cover their floor with them. They also have routines when they leave their car that makes me suspecting they indeed have OCD. If someone has experience with OCD, I'd be happy to get answers that take it into account as well.

More details

  • They indeed actually park their car right in front of the door. It's not really a problem for pedestrians for we have a sidewalk between the street and the entrance door, so trollers can pass anyway.

  • The 4cm step I mentioned is actually a slope, so it's not a problem even for a car with delicate suspensions.

  • We don't have (to my knowledge) municipal parking management units. Even though it existed, they actually could not do anything since, as an allotment, it is a private location (and therefore a private road). The complex does not have any agreement with a private towing company to service the lot.

  • The location where they park is indeed a safety issue regarding a situation where there is fire or a resident shall leave in an ambulance.

  • We're not paying for the spot separately from our rent and utilities (it's a whole package). Therefore, we can't just threaten our landlord not to pay for the spot for she would talk to them.

  • There's no wheelchair users in my building.

  • My landlord lives in the condo below the bad parker.

  • This originally came up over a month ago... has there been a resolution? – DaveG Oct 5 '18 at 15:46
  • @DaveG Not yet. Talked with other neighbours (espe. people in charge of safety and urbanism ; this is private property and as is in France, there's no legal way to put signs, or prevent them to park on forbidden places, or ask firefighters to come and get the car, ...), they're upset by their behavior as well. I talked with the parker, asked them gently not to park there and informed them that their car is really annoyingly placed. They justified again by saying they don't want to damage their car. Long story short, this is far from being resolved ... – avazula Oct 11 '18 at 13:18
  • There must besomeone with authority over the parking spaces and other common areas, even if it's a group of people. – Kat Jan 22 at 0:50

12 Answers 12

97

In the United States and Canada, you can call a fire marshal (firefighters in France according to OldPadawan's comment) to come in and evaluate the entrance for fire code enforcement.

They can order the installment of signs which say "No parking or standing at any time" and if the neighbor continues to violate the signs then you can call police to ticket them and/or have them towed.

You may consider involving your landlord or other parties but that's a gamble because if it costs money to put up the signs then they will sheepishly avoid it even if it solves the issue.


To expand on my reasoning I would just like to point out that the person performing these transgressions is someone which has proven themselves to have a loose moral compass.

This person will always look for the most weaselly method of doing what they want. They are fully aware that repercussions do not exist and that any complainers thus far have no authority. They will gladly make you bend over backwards just to get your hopes up that they will consider your point of view.

They may politely listen to you and you could go on and on about inconveniences and safety hazards until you're blue in the face but at the end of the day they will smile and continue doing as they please.

58

Why they choose to park at the door and block other people is irrelevant. Their car may be made of glass, they may have OCD, they may be jerks that don't care about other people. Whatever the reason, they need to not park there.

I agree with the other answers that this is something to take up with your landlord. The way to get your landlord to take action is to contact her each time you notice the car parked at the door. At some point it's going to be easier for her to tell the people not to park there than it will be to keep dealing with you.

You should also suggest to your landlord to get movable signs or sandwich boards that say "No Parking" and have those up in a way to block parking at the door. You could temporarily move those out to park.

Don't worry that you are being rude by contacting your landlord multiple times. You are paying for a parking space. Even if your landlord isn't the landlord of the people mis-parking, the landlord still has responsibility to make sure that you have access to your parking space.

25

What you can do is talk to them again in person or write a letter to them about the situation. Tell them that what they do is not only against the rules of the place you live in, but also preventing others from parking in their assigned spots, preventing them from leaving, and causing accidents, so it is certainly unacceptable. They mentioned to you long ago their fragile suspension. That is something you should bring up again. Tell them that having that delicate a suspension as to not even handle a 4cm slope is not a valid reason for giving other residents these parking problems. Say everything politely but firmly to make sure the points get across to them.

If they still don't follow the rules, then it is time to make a complaint to the landlord or the people who manage the buildings and parking lots where you live. You said the landlord could not do anything about it because they own their apartment, but still they have no right to park there, and you need to insist that the landlord takes the appropriate action, because it is the landlord's responsibility to ensure everyone can park safely. As a last resort, the case can be referred to the police, because accidents certainly should not be allowed to happen, and ambulances and fire-fighting vehicles should be allowed to stop at the spot they park.

Regarding the OCD you mentioned, there are many types of OCD, and unless you know the details of the case, it is not possible to figure out how their OCD comes into the picture. If that is involved, that is something they will need to explain to you. Otherwise, you don't need to factor OCD into consideration. In any case, their OCD cannot be used as a reason for giving the residents these parking problems.

23

Involving third parties is the key

Honestly, this is not an ideal question for ips.se, because it's the problem you generally shouldn't be resolving 1-on-1 with the miscreant. You have already taken this to the limits of fair negotiation. Unless you have the negotiating skills of Tony Robbins, you are far more likely to accidentally escalate this, turn it into a feud, and have that turn nasty.

In fact, the police will tell you: Don't try to resolve these mano-a-mano.

You need third parties. One way to involve them is making extra work for them.

It's not your parking space: it's one you are leasing. You can lease another parking space that is not likely to be blocked by this person. Ask the landlord to issue you another space that is nearly as good. With luck, he'll have none free, then you can really start pushing him to rearrange the entire parking deck so that everyone gets a space only 1-2 spaces farther than their original. That would be a big pain for the landlord.

The scofflaw is also enjoying the fact that only he is doing this, and the rest of you are bending over backwards to accommodate him. It would be a much bigger problem if everyone did! And that would force the landlord to action. So everyone does it, especially when you have the perfectly legit excuse "I am unable to access my assigned space". Eventually, the landlord is forced to put his foot down and roar "Enough!" And the scofflaw will get the message too. After it settles down, the scofflaw will resume, because the can't resist limit-testing. The day that happens, everyone also resumes the same excuse. Deny him the scenario where only he gets to do it.

In my country, if I am parked properly, and someone else parking improperly has blocked me in, I call the cops, they call their tow truck. Tows only end one way: the scofflaw goes down to impound and pays to tow and impound fees. It's designed to be a penalty. I would visit your police station and see how they do things there. It may be he finds a ticket on his windshield every time he does it, or that your kerb needs a splash of red paint. The cops will get sick of dealing with him too; in this case, you are motivating them to your cause by making them share the pain.

Another pain-motivator is talking to the city planning department or fire department - parking is usually addressed in a building's construction or occupancy permits, do those plans/permits allow or prohibit parking there? Does the fire department feel that if they needed to fight a fire in that building, they'd be OK with a line of cars against that kerb limiting access? Your question would be entirely innocent: ”If he can do it, I can do it too, right?" The pain-motivator will be on the landlord because he'll get the fines/order to remedy. This is a heavy hit upon an innocent (if we define collaborators as "innocent"), so use it only as a last resort.

Like I say, not the ideal IPS question, because "how do I interact successfully with the scofflaw", the gold-standard advice is "you don't". But you can still interact with others.

5

I see two ways of dealing with this: direct approach or delegate it to the landlord.

Option 1: leave a polite note on their windscreen, to explain that parking their car outside the door makes it impossible for other residents to access their space, and would they please park in the allocated space in future.

Keep it short and sweet (no need for threats) and see if it yields any result. If not, either jump straight to option 2, or leave a second note that is a bit more forceful in tone: end it by saying that if they continue parking here you will have to raise the issue with the landlord as you need unrestricted access to your designated space.

Option 2: since you have a landlord, it seems like their responsibility to deal with these kind of disputes. If all residents have an allocated space, and this person isn't using it, seems a fairly clear breach of their tenancy agreement. The landlord should be able to deal with this directly with the tenant in question, and should they not get the matter resolved, ultimately I expect the tenant could face eviction for breaching the terms of their lease.

I'm quite non-confrontational myself, and in my opinion, one of the benefits of renting is that you have a landlord who you're paying money to, who is responsible for ensuring you have use of the property in accordance with your agreement, so why not make it their problem.

  • I'm curious, how would you formulate such a windscreen note? I'm afraid that I'd write something that would sound as passive-agressive. – avazula Sep 1 '18 at 9:39
5

If I understand it right, your landlord owns your appartment (maybe others), and this person owns their own apartment. This is France, so I don't know the particular rules. Here is how it works in my experience in other places:

First step, you go to your landlord and complain to him that you can't use your parking space. Bring a few photos of that car parked there and hindering you. Tell your landlord that he needs to either make sure that you can park your car, or you will ask for the rent to be reduced. Make sure that your landlord (whose help you need) gets this right: You don't actually want to pay less rent, you want your parking space.

Second, your landlord will now go to that person and tell them that the landlord's rental income may go down because of that person's behaviour, and they will hold them responsible. If that person doesn't react, you insist that your rent gets reduced, and the landlord will send that person the bill promptly.

There will very likely be a meeting of the homeowners once or twice a year, and it will come up at that time as well. Where I lived, all nine owners met twice a year, together with a lawyer who got paid to run the building, and that's the place where such problems would come up (lucky enough, nothing like that happened at our place).

Be nice and friendly to your landlord, because it's not their fault, but it is their responsibility.

2

It sounds tricky to convince them, since the neighbor is already fine violating the standing rule with a very weak excuse for doing so. The other answers cover some good options, and I agree that this is probably something for the landlord (or whoever is responsible for administering the parking lot). But I'll add a few more ideas:

1. Strict Enforcement

The exact steps to be taken depend on the rules for the parking lot. If it's the sort of lot with rules and a statement that "violators will be towed", then it's appropriate for the landlord to start contacting a tow truck and having the car removed when parked this way. If the police can asked to start ticketing the car, or take some other sort of formal action, that's another idea. Depending on how ownership is set up, they may not own the parking space or have any guaranteed right to use the lot at all (though I would imagine that they do have something like that). But if not, revocation of their privileges to use the lot could be appropriate.

The point is that there will be consequences for your neighbor to keep breaking the rules. As things stand, your neighbor effectively can park as they have been-- they get everything they want, and there is no apparent downside to them.

2. Joint Ownership Meetings

This is a good option, assuming that the meetings can impose something binding. Depending on what formal powers the residents actually have you can mete out a punishment directly or officially change the rules such that consequences can be applied in the future (such as adopting a policy that improperly parked vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense).

I like this option because it expresses that the issue is a problem for a lot of people in the allotment and is indirect: it's not about attacking your neighbor, but rather about focusing on the rules and the reasons that those rules exist.

3. Compromise

This one may or may not work (it depends on how honest your neighbor's suspension story is), but it could be less trouble to simply have everyone in the allotment chip in some money and have the step on your neighbor's space mitigated. That might be sanding down the step, installing a small ramp, or something similar. That removes the excuse for not parking there.

A lot of people I know dislike this sort of appeasement, but if your neighbor is willing to park in their space without the step then this might ultimately be the least troublesome approach.

OCD Note:

If your neighbor wants to claim a feature of their OCD as a reason that they have a particular need to park there, they can do so. But that's an affirmative response (meaning they have to claim it), not something that you need to assume to justify their bad behavior. Unless your neighbor wants to offer this as the real reason for their parking habits I don't think you need to concern yourself with it.

OCD also doesn't address the competing needs the residents have-- it may be important to your neighbor to park there, but it's also important to the other residents that that area be clear. It's hard to see OCD overruling everyone else's interests in a situation like this, even if it is truly a factor (which is possible, I guess, but sounds shaky to me).

2

I would find it very rude to take any action before politely asking them to move it. It would be best to just ring their bell and talk about it. you could take the following in consideration:

  • Don't ask/tell them to park in their spot. It really is not your business if they do or don't, as long as it is not bothering you anymore, it is fine.
  • Give them details about why it is bothering you, so they know it is not because you like complaining or ordering people around.
  • Show them you care about whatever reason they may give for putting it there, some compassion helps a lot to keep things friendly and make sure someone does not feel offended.

Whatever reason they may give, it does not give them the right to hinder you. Politely insist that they park somewhere else.

You could say something like this: 'I understand that it can be difficult for you to park in the spot, or a bit further away, but I cannot get in to my spot like this. I am sorry, but I will have to ask you to park it somewhere else'. This is a kind request, they should react by apologizing and promising to park somewhere else, if they don't, continue with 'It is not allowed to park in that place, and because of your car I cannot get in to my assigned spot, I will have to insist that you park it somewhere else'. If they still won't comply, I would follow up with a last warning: 'Please park your car in another place from now on, otherwise I will have to sue you/file a formal complaint/bring it up in a meeting.

Note: Several people have suggested that the gentle approach has already been tried and that it is time for stronger action. I don't agree with that. In this specific case it has already been more than a year since the subject came up, and it was not a very strong way to say it(as I understand it). It makes sense to me to try it again, but much more clear and persistent.

In general it is never a bad idea to give someone another chance to do the right thing, it does not cost anything more that one or two minutes of your time. Going for a direct attack from the start has a big chance of ending in a fight. A fight with a neighbor should always be avoided, no matter whether you are right of wrong. It can be extremely difficult and many people have moved to another house because of it.

  • 2
    @Orbit I actually told them their car location was unconvenient the first time I asked them why they would park there. It's worth trying again IMO. The question is, how would I phrase my request :p – avazula Sep 1 '18 at 9:40
  • @avazula: I think inconvenient is a bit of an understatement here, to me that sounds like 'it would be nicer if you park somewhere else, but it is really not a big deal'. I also think it is very important to say exactly why something is a problem for you. Are you annoyed because walking around his car costs you 1.5 seconds extra in the evening, or because you can't get in to your space, that is a big difference. If someone told me it 'is a bit inconvenient' I would not give it much attention, if someone says he can't get in to his spot I will walk out immediately to move my car and apologize. – Orbit Sep 5 '18 at 17:36
2

Find legal means to enforce the use of the allotted parking spot.

Possible avenues are:

  • if there is a contract clearly requiring the neighbor to use the allotted parking spot, the signatory(/-ies) can enforce* this

  • the owner(s) of the street and / or the area in front of the door may enforce* a no parking rule (who exactly established that it is not allowed to park in front of the building?)

The problem of course is if you're not one of the parties above, it would cost them money and they may not want to escalate the situation.

  • In that case you can only hope to find enough evidence that their behavior is a health and safety issue and may (or did) result in serious hazard to health or property damage (demonstrated by former incidents or official survey) or breaches any laws.

    Teaming up with other neighbors who share your frustration would lessen the financial burden and the wrath of the neighbor for dragging him to court with this.

Obviously any legal dispute will severely harm the relationship with the misbehaving neighbor, but ultimately it doesn't seem to be all roses anyways.

*options to enforce should ideally include fines and / or towing threatened in the court order

EDIT: (in light of the critique in the comment by baldPrussian)

My solution is in fact a very civilized interpersonal conflict resolution widely accepted in our society.

It requires quite a few social behaviors and skills, showing restraint from resorting to violence (our most instinctive conflict resolution approach), objective analysis and discussion, finding implications and potential resolutions regarding the conflict while appointing a third party, neutral facilitator.

There may be a point in conflict situations, where one must recognize (another skill btw.) that ones own interpersonal skills are insufficient or not applicable to resolve the conflict as wished.

OP already exhausted in my opinion many (more amicable) personal interaction possibilities in resolving the conflict with a resolution she desires as expressed in the question and I wanted to present an alternative approach to other answers that were already given.

So among other resolutions that I also could think of (OP offering payment or other incentives to the neighbor to park as wished, use coercion or blackmail, begging submissively, imploring reason and compassion for the sake of the safety of children etc., all requiring certain skills) I presented a choice that I think is the most desirable to end the conflict.
(As a Prussian you would appreciate the order it represents, I wager, baldPrussian)

It requires employing reason and emotional detachment among others.

It is such a good solution that all countries on this planet and the societies living within their borders use it as their basis for the rule of law.

Obviously there is a factor of power (exerted by society, represented by the judicial and executive branches of government) with the ability to enforcement within this framework, actually allowing for a finite resolution of ultimately any conflict.

Anything outside this framework is raw violence and anarchy, which in and of itself is also social interaction and requires many skills in navigating through life.

As such, violence could be another possibility to resolve this conflict, however it will have repercussions for anyone living in a society governed by the rule of law and negates the adherence to social behavior as agreed upon by current society.

Unfortunately the rule of law is often diminished or dismantled in countries that suffer from rampant corruption or are in a state of war either within or with other countries as a direct reaction to conflict or violence on a larger scope than this case.
OP is not living in such a country however.

  • 2
    This may resolve the issue, but this SE is geared toward handing issues with interpersonal skills. Because of that, this answer was flagged and stands a good chance of being removed. A tip when answering questions here: how will we interact with one another? What interpersonal skill does this action draw on or improve? That will provide more IPS-type answers and will be appreciated by the readers. – baldPrussian Sep 3 '18 at 1:34
  • I disagree! My proposition actually requires many interpersonal skills that are required in civilized society. Please see my reasons for objection in my Answer under the EDIT. – DigitalBlade969 Sep 3 '18 at 2:13
1

I thought of putting a note on their windscreen to tell them they block the way but I found it rude.

Yet this is what you should do next, before you get fire marshals and owners' assembly involved. Right now, all you did was asking your neighbour why they parked in front of your spot, and they gave you an explanation which basically dismissed you. You need to be more assertive and tell them not to park there. If telling someone their car is blocking your way is too difficult, a written note is indeed a good solution.

If a more assertive conversation/note has no effect, I would proceed with your landlord, owners meeting (via your landlord) and finally, the authorities. Getting other parties involved before you actually complain to your neighbour about their parking habits could be seen as overreaction.

1

Involving the police or other authorities is overkill and will make the relationship between neighbours a bad one.

The basic reason these people park where they do is convenience. It is less effort for them to park close to the door and they clearly don't care about other people's problems.

The nice way to solve this is to make sure that they feel your problems themselves. Make it inconvenient for them. So I suggest:

When you find your car parked in, call them and ask them to move their car temporarily so you can get out.

Stay calm, be polite, but do not accept NO as an answer. If they hang up, walk to their door and continue the conversation. You have to be insistent enough that they will find moving their car is a smaller effort than listening to you.

Say thank you when they have moved their car. Be polite.

If you come home and your slot is blocked, do the same.

(Optional step) Once you have established a routine that they have to move their car on demand, leave very early some mornings and come back very late some nights. I mark this step as optional as it goes against "being polite".

Staying calm and being polite is important. Shouting matches doesn't solve problems.

It looked like there were two other slots blocked by this car. Get those people to do the same.

I think you will find that soon they will be tired of this and just place their car where it should be.

I stress being polite here. I think that is important both to make them cooperate, but also to preserve a good relationship with them for later. These people are used to being shouted at and it doesn't bother them anymore. Getting a polite and reasonable request is more likely to work.

0

I think contacting the landlord over and over again, or other third parties sometimes can be exhausting and will lead to even worse relationships with those people.

I would suggest you to put the same step/slope at that place they are using for parking, if it's possible or maybe some other object like concrete blocks that can be removed after they stop doing this (if that will ever happen). I will say my suggestions is a first-thing-to-try measure, but I cannot say it will work for every country or situation. You will need to speak with other people who live in there, if they agree with this. Sometimes it is really hard to reason with low esteem people, and dealing with them is an almost no-win situation.

If they still try to remove the blockade to keep parking there, then, I will personally find some other apartments for rent, rather than having my negative energy around every time I enter/leave the apartment.

At any case, please let us know what happened, as I am very curious to hear also feedback from any action you take.

protected by OldPadawan Sep 3 '18 at 15:41

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