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Condo Association Can Revoke License to Park

Posted in Case Law & Court Rulings

magill_lA recent case demonstrates how important it is to carefully consider what documentation to use in connection with allocation of the use of parking spaces.  In Keane v. The President Condominium Association, Inc., the court sided with the association after it revoked a parking license.

Here the unit owner, Mr. Keane, paid the association $5,000 for an extra parking space.  He thought he would have use of this extra parking space for as long as he was a unit owner.  In fact, he may have been under the impression that the assignment was permanent, meaning he could transfer the use of the parking space to someone buying his unit.

He entered into an agreement with the association that granted him a license to use the space (the space itself was identified on an exhibit).  The agreement said that Mr. Keane had a license for the use and benefit of the parking space and the license was to “run with the ownership of Unit 4A of the President Condominium and is specifically for use of the Owner subject to rules and regulations” of the association.

The parking space license was signed by the property manager on behalf of the association.  Approximately ten years later, the association sent a letter notifying Mr. Keane the license was revoked.  Mr. Keane filed a lawsuit claiming the association didn’t have the right to take away his space, since he paid for the space and had an agreement that didn’t seem to have an ending date.

What he didn’t understand is that a license is different than a lease (which has a specific term) or an easement (which are usually perpetual).  Licenses by their very nature are terminable at will and therefore the association had the right to revoke the use.

The court pointed out a narrow exception to this rule.  If the unit owner had expended a large sum of money to permanently improve the parking space (constructing a carport may be an example), the decision may have gone his way.  Mr. Keane paid for the license and was granted the use right for a considerable period of time, but since he didn’t have a permanent assignment or lease agreement for a specific term, the association was deemed to have acted properly.

  • carolyn

    The agreement stating that the license was to “run with the ownership of the unit” seems pretty clear to me that the understanding was that the parking space was h is in perpetuity. If it doesn’t mean that, then what exactly does “run with the unit” mean?