Deed Restrictions on Parking on Street

by Rhonda
(Millersport Ohio Fairfield County USA)

Visitor Question: I have lived in our home for 18+ years not knowing there were deed restrictions about parking cars on street in front of a home. The town now wants to enforce this by placing no parking signs in our front yard without any notice. I believe the town incorporated or annexed this subdivision after the deed restrictions were placed.

How can we rid of these deed restrictions and get the town to allow parking on this street even if only on 1 side when there is way more than enough room?

Editors Reply: The first big point is that both town laws and deed restrictions must be obeyed. One major difference is that the enforcement mechanism is different.

Deed restrictions are enforced only through whatever fines and punishments a homeowners association may be able to exercise, or through going to court.

Town laws are enforced, in this case, through giving out parking tickets, which carry progressively larger fines the longer the ticket remains unpaid.

Removing deed restrictions varies from fairly easy to quite difficult, depending on the method that the deed itself describes for altering the restrictions. In the easiest case, the deed might set up a homeowners association, and allow either the HOA board or the current homeowners to vote to change restrictions by simple majority vote.

Then it becomes more complex from there. Sometimes the person imposing the restriction originally must agree, and of course if that person now is deceased, it's a harder job to find all the heirs and get them to agree. At other times the deed restriction sets forth a standard that is almost impossible to attain. For example, all property owners might have to agree, and if you have 100 different property owners currently, getting everyone to agree can be quite difficult.

A deed restriction can say almost anything, so there is no way to predict how tricky that might be.

However, in your case if you organize with your neighbors you may be able to persuade your town to hold off on posting the No Parking signs (based on an ordinance they would pass, or maybe already have passed). If the town sees that you are working on removing the deed restriction, they may see the logic.

On the other hand, if someone in the town government has noticed that they don't think there should be parking on your streets, they can still vote to impose a "no parking" requirement, even if you succeeded in removing the deed restriction.

Now if we step back and look at the big picture that we have just outlined, you can see that your best focus right now probably is your town government. If they can be persuaded that the parking prohibition is illogical and unnecessary, then you could remove the threat of town action, which is by far the easiest to enforce.

If you find out that your town already has passed an ordinance restricting the parking, know that they can reverse that decision by passing another ordinance. We suspect they might already have done that, since you seem to know where they will be posting signs.

If you can neutralize the town government, that would leave only HOA action (if you have one) or someone going to court (a county or state court higher up than a municipal court) to enforce the parking prohibition. If you have an HOA, make sure they are seeing it the same way you are. It there is no HOA, it would be very rare indeed for someone to feel so strongly about parking that he or she would be willing to fight over it in court.

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