My neighbors are abusing my parking lot! What should I do?
October 14, 2007 1:09 PM   Subscribe

What should I do about neighbors using my building's parking lot?

Let me assure you all in advance that I realize how petty this is, but it's growing increasingly annoying so I figured I'd see if the hive mind has any advice.

I live in a small, 4-apartment building. We technically have 8 parking spots, but one is really hard to get in and out of, so no one uses it. The residents of our building have 5 cars between us, leaving two empty spaces for when friends come over.

However, the residents of the building across the street keep using these spots! I can't figure out why, since there are plenty of spaces in front of their own building. My office window faces my parking lot and theirs, so I frequently witness them coming and going across the street to their cars parked here.

This annoys me because it means when I have friends over, there's no place to park. It also annoys me because I can't figure out why my parking lot is preferable to theirs.

Should I confront them next time I see them parking here? I tend toward the non-confrontational, so this isn't an approach I'm that fond of. Should I leave a note under the windshield wipers, like, "Why are you parked here when you have plenty of spots at your own place?" Should I ask our apartment manager for suggestions?

There is a clearly posted sign saying "resident parking only".

Again, I realize this seems silly, but it's starting to drive me nuts! Should I just get over myself?
posted by leesh to Human Relations (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Have the bejesus towed out of them. Figure out what the local requirements for this are (a letter from your landlord authorizing you to have cars towed from the property you're renting, some sort of official police presence, etc). and get to work.

If you really feel like being magnanimous, leave a note on the car and only have them towed if you see them a second time. Passive-aggressive notes have never succeeded for me, ever, so find a local tow company and start calling. They're making money off this; the only people you're putting out are the residents from across the street.

Just make sure you don't get a friend of your building you weren't aware of--that can be hard to explain.
posted by hototogisu at 1:17 PM on October 14, 2007

It sounds like an issue for your mananger.

How about a sign that says "Resident parking Only / For Towed Vehicles Call xxx-xxxx"
posted by bottlebrushtree at 1:19 PM on October 14, 2007

Have you spoken to your landlord? Is your spot considered to be included in your rent, or mentioned in your lease? If so, it may be your landlord's responsibility (and maybe even their obligation) to handle the situation.
posted by veronitron at 1:20 PM on October 14, 2007

They're your neighbors. You share a common physical environment and, undoubtedly, a number of concerns. Please, just talk to them. Human beings don't usually bite. A note is passive-aggressive and breeds resentment. Just talk.

Ask yourself if you want to live in a world where neighbors work issues like this out by querying the internet for advice, calling tow trucks and leaving anonymous notes, or by getting together and talking things over. It merits a try.
posted by limon at 1:20 PM on October 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

Ask yourself if you want to live in a world where neighbors work issues like this out by querying the internet for advice, calling tow trucks and leaving anonymous notes, or by getting together and talking things over. It merits a try.

While in theory this sounds all well and good, in my experience, action (e.g. towing) has worked wonders over polite requests. Perhaps I've lived next to my share of jackasses, however.
posted by Asherah at 1:24 PM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Personally, I'd go with notes under the windshields if you're seeing the same people again-and-again. Don't tow until it happens again, after you've put a note on their windshield. At least at that point, they've been suitably warned. I realize you have a sign there, but clearly you've habituated them to the point where they don't believe the sign works. So give them one more warning, and if that doesn't work, have them towed!
posted by PandemicSoul at 1:29 PM on October 14, 2007

I don't think your concern is petty. It may be a relatively small thing, but happiness and peace in life are made up of all the small things added together.

If your manager won't handle it, then would go the note route as well. I don't see it as passive-aggressive, but convenient. To talk to them in person, you would have to chase them down after they park, or wait by their car for them to come back. Make a couple dozen copies of the note and start using them. Make them diplomatic and polite. No need to threaten towing at first, but if it persists, you can take it further.

If you are not the owner or manager, you may not have authority to have the cars towed. The owner or manager could probably give you the authority to call the towing company once they have the arrangements made.

Good luck.
posted by The Deej at 1:38 PM on October 14, 2007

there are plenty of spaces in front of their own building. [...] I frequently witness them coming and going across the street to their cars parked here[...] when I have friends over, there's no place to park.

Can your friends just park in "their" places over the street? If there is some reason why not (technical trespass, or whatever), then yes I guess you have to bring it up somehow.
posted by wilko at 1:50 PM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions. It's the same three cars/three people, and they just started doing it a week or so ago. I'll call my landlord tomorrow and see what she says--I pay for two parking spots as part of my rent, so this is actually putting me out.
posted by leesh at 1:54 PM on October 14, 2007

Now see, I'm curious. Rather than choose to be angry, why not choose curiosity? I think you should just ask them the next time you see them doing it, and if this happens as frequently as the post makes it appear, that should be soon. I'd honestly want to know, what's up with their lot? Why do they choose to park across the street, which seems like it would be inconvenient for all parties involved?

Perhaps if you approach it without rancor and with a curious attitude, you can get an answer. That doesn't mean you just have to accept it, but that's a way of opening up rapport.

I do think you should also talk to your landlord.
posted by Danila at 2:04 PM on October 14, 2007

Start with your landlord. She may have rented the two unused spaces out.
posted by ikkyu2 at 2:24 PM on October 14, 2007 [2 favorites]

I had a friend who once lived in a townhouse complex. Every unit had its own assigned spot, and there were a number of visitor spots scattered around the place. Visitor parking is occasionally difficult to snag, as I found out when I was visiting him. For whatever reason the complex had fallen into this anti-social mode where lots of residents parked in the visitor spots, leaving their own space free for guests whenever they happened to show up. Thus I would have to circle around, seeing car after car parked in the visitor spot and empty space after empty space of assigned parking (and don't think they wouldn't tow me if I parked in their assigned space). It drove me fucking nuts.

Neighbors parking in your lot = free visitor parking for your neighbors in their normal spot. They win, you lose. Don't stand for it. Politely inquire first and then have them towed if they persist.
posted by PercussivePaul at 3:28 PM on October 14, 2007 [1 favorite]

Since your confrontation averse (and perhaps a little passive aggressive) then you should talk to your landlord first. Hell, maybe he has given the permission to use the space and you don't even know about it... maybe he owns the other building too... who knows what the deal is?

If your landlord is MIA or slow to respond then that really leaves you only a few options. You can talk to them (the most human thing to do) about the issue. Maybe they have a completely justifable non-assholish reason for using the space?

You can leave a note... but not knowing the situation fully you'd be acting from a very uninformed stance...

Calling a tow truck is an absolute last resort and there are some considerations: depending on how the space is zoned the tow company may not want to get involved. It maybe possible for your neighbors to find out who was responsible for having their car towed.... ill will ensues.

For godsakes get to know your neighbors. If you make friends with them then their idiosyncrasies will instantly be a lot less annoying. I'm passing-friends and acquaintances with all of my neighbors, when they make noise (a big annoyance for me) it doesn't bother me because I think, "That's just neighbor-x having fun..." or whatever...
posted by wfrgms at 3:33 PM on October 14, 2007

Put a very nice note on their windshield (with clipart of pumpkins, leaves, cornucopias and stuff) that says this.

Come to a covered dish party at (your place)! Get to know your neighbors! Have a great food and music! Bring your favorite fall dish to share! Pumpkin pie and cider will be provided!

All residents of the building are invited as well as those who (illegally) park here!

See you there!

Just make sure their really illegal first. Otherwise you look like Seinfeld when he refused to open the door for his neighbor.
posted by 4ster at 4:01 PM on October 14, 2007

Make sure there's a Private Parking sign. Type up a friendly note saying Dear _____ (plate #), on _____(date), this car was parked in a paid parking spot. Cars parked here without permission may be towed. Make copies; "ticket" cars. Keep a list of illegal parking by plate & date. Tow on the 2nd offense.

Yes, of course, you want to be friends with your neighbors, but they're being rude, so warn 1st because you want to be friendly.
posted by theora55 at 4:01 PM on October 14, 2007

posted by 4ster at 4:01 PM on October 14, 2007

Response by poster: They definitely are parking here without being residents or friends--I've seen them walking to their own apartments after parking (unfortunately, I have a totally different schedule than they do--I've been in pajamas almost every time I've seen them, hence my reluctance to go outside--also, I do feel weird running out of the building to say, "Hey, just curious, why do you keep parking here?" I haven't been able to ask my neighbors about it for the same reason).

I'm not going to tow them no matter what, though the idea of towing them makes me happy.

Anyway, I don't really want to take the time to make friends with them, as I'm desperately trying to move out of this city. That's not really related though.
posted by leesh at 4:07 PM on October 14, 2007

If you are paying for two spots, why not park in two spots? Park in the middle of two spots. They're your to use. Then you should not care about what the neighbors are doing.

My guess is with ikkyu2. I think the manager is making a few extra bucks on the side without the landlord knowing. He sees perpetual extra spots and rents them out for cash.

Maybe I am just too cynical or jaded.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 5:50 PM on October 14, 2007

Just yell out the damn window next time you see them walking away - "Hey! This lot is for this building only, you're not allowed to park here!". If they give you the finger or ignore you, tow 'em
posted by tristeza at 5:52 PM on October 14, 2007

How about a sign that says "Resident parking Only / For Towed Vehicles Call xxx-xxxx"
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:19 PM on October 14 [+] [!]

The sign alone will probably have a huge effect.
posted by caddis at 6:07 PM on October 14, 2007

"I've been in pajamas almost every time I've seen them, hence my reluctance to go outside"

You'd be surprised what a good state that is to be in. A couple of years ago I walked across the street at two in the morning, barefoot and in flannel pants, to ask some kids to turn down their stereo. I suspect it made me look fearless; they were very deferential and apologetic.
posted by jon1270 at 6:16 PM on October 14, 2007

One thing to consider: maybe the people parking in your lot, then going over to the building across the street, are workpeople performing the same task for both landlords. My apt. building has a guy who comes to blow leaves/mow grass/etc. who will sometimes park in front of my apartment and then walk out of the parking lot, away from our apartment complex. I wondered what the deal was, until one day I watched him come back an hour later and proceed to sweep off our front walk, then take his broom and walk over to the other building in our complex.

Turns out he works for both our complex and the one down the street, but parks at one and walks between them to save gas (the other one has its own brooms/equipment/etc.). I can't argue with that!
posted by gillyflower at 6:58 PM on October 14, 2007

Another vote for towing. Get your landlord to nail down which extra space is formally yours, find out which towing company she has an agreement with (or push for her to establish one), and call that company anonymously if someone parks in your space. Towing may seem cruel, but anyone who parks in a private lot is prima facie inconsiderate; appealing to his or her better nature is unlikely to get you far.

Another argument for towing: at my last building, I came home one day to find someone parked in my assigned space. This was not a huge deal, since the building had sufficient visitor parking, and my landlord refused to have it towed because he wanted to be a nice guy and work it out himself. He talked to every tenant in the building, all of whom denied owning the car; he was clearly saddened that someone was lying to him. After three weeks, he finally agreed to get the car towed...which is when we found out it had been stolen. I have to think an immediate tow would have saved that car's owner a lot of trouble.
posted by backupjesus at 5:27 AM on October 15, 2007

we had a similar problem when the gate to our lot was broken. Folks who lived in the building, neighbors, and even customers at a close by business would park in the lot, often overnight sometimes blocking in people who were paying for the spot. My girlfriend tried notes and such, but no one really cared. Those of us who paid for parking petitioned the owner/manager to give assigned spots and get the gate fixed. The major argument was to point out they were losing money. I know I was mostly pissed because people were getting for free what I was paying for, so it made sense. If its a free lot, and the landlord doesn't seem to care much there'd prob. not a lot to do, but ask nice. Maybe put notes under their wipers that say "lot for tenets only, violators will be towed. this is your last warning -management" you could put it on your landlords car too, just for laughs....
posted by jeffe at 8:50 AM on October 15, 2007

You could always leave a note threatening to burn their fucking house down, but there are much better suggestions in this thread. Why not just speak to them?
posted by finite at 10:16 PM on October 15, 2007

Response by poster: As an update, I did finally manage to catch one of them when I had presentable clothes on and ask her out of curiosity why they keep parking here. She said it's b/c their parking lot is on such a steep hill--ours is easier to get in and out of. I told her the landlord had encouraged us to have them towed (true) but that I didn't want to go that far. Anyway, they didn't park there last night so I guess that did the trick.
posted by leesh at 10:43 AM on October 19, 2007 [1 favorite]

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