George Coucounis explains why the management committee of a building complex has no right to grant the owner of an apartment the exclusive right to use a communal parking space.
Where the developer does not allocate the parking spaces of a building complex to the owners of each apartment/shop, these are considered communal and all owners have the right to use them. Obviously, the matter is one of understanding between owners, who must show consensus to amicably arrange and specify the parking space each one of them will use in the communal parking area. Wherever the matter is not mutually arranged, the relevant provisions of the law consider all parking spaces to be of common use.
The management committee, if any, cannot grant a right of exclusive use of a parking space to any owner without the prior consent of the others or of the Land Registry.
The issue is pertinent in many building complexes where there are not sufficient parking spaces to meet the needs of all owners or residents. Another problem is the increased number of the vehicles when owners or residents have visitors. If an owner uses more than one parking space or more than his entitlement he causes a problem to the other residents or owners.
Conflicts also arise when one parks his car blocking that of another, and the problem even gets worse if the owner of the car blocking the other is unknown. Furthermore, there are cases where the parking spaces are not big enough to fit a car. This issue exists and a purchaser or a tenant must check the size of the parking space at the time of purchase or rent. It is important to know the parking space status.
The title deed, the architectural plans, the town planning and building permits and their terms should always be examined by the purchaser or the tenant. By doing so, he will safeguard his rights and avoid ending up with no parking space or without knowing which is his.
The issue was discussed by the Supreme Court of Cyprus in a civil appeal whereby a tenant who rented an apartment in Nicosia had no right to use a parking space since the tenancy agreement did not provide for it. The renting of an apartment did not imply the right to use its parking space and consequently the owner lawfully claimed rent from the tenant for the parking space. The matter is not one of public policy but one of freedom of contract, whereby the principles and the law of contract are applicable.
In another case before the District Court of Nicosia, the plaintiff, the owner of an apartment in a building complex, complained that the management committee did not grant him a second parking space and that they illegally decided to allocate the parking spaces without permission from the Land Registry. Furthermore, the chairman and the members of the committee granted themselves more parking spaces than what they were entitled to. The defendant – the management committee - alleged that the plaintiff was entitled to only one parking space according to the percentage of his ownership and that the decision of the committee was based on the relevant laws and regulations.
The court found the committee to be at wrong, since it did not apply the provisions of the law. The committee did not have the right to grant exclusive use of parking spaces to the owners of the building. The plaintiff was illegally prevented from using the communal parking spaces and the court issued an order against the committee prohibiting them from allocating parking spaces without previously obtaining the permission of the Land Registry.
The above demonstrates the need for every purchaser or tenant to carefully study, discuss and agree the issue of communal areas including the communal spaces and/or parking spaces that will be allocated to his property.
Another issue that must be carefully examined is the administration and management of the communal areas, who is responsible for them and how much an owner will pay for his share. If the issue is carefully examined and agreed when a property is purchased or rented, the vendor and others will be prevented from behaving arbitrarily.
George Coucounis is an experienced lawyer practicing in Larnaca, Cyprus.
Educated at University College (London) and Thessaloniki University (Greece), George is fluent in English and has been practicing law in Cyprus since 1982.