Parking Units and Exclusive-Use Parking – What’s the Difference?

One of the areas that we notice that causes some confusion for condominium owners is the difference between parking units and common elements parking spaces, also called exclusive-use parking.

The primary difference between the two different types of parking is that parking units have their own separate legal title and are legally owned by the owner of the space, who will in most instances also own a dwelling unit in the condominium. This means that the owner of the parking unit can sell the parking space separately from the dwelling unit, subject to any restrictions in the condominium corporation’s governing documents. This also means that there is normally no specific allocation of parking spaces to each dwelling unit, as owners are often free to transfer their parking unit to another unit owner in the condominium.

For exclusive-use parking spaces, each parking space does not have its own separate legal title, and is part of the common elements. These parking spaces may be specifically allocated (to a particular unit) in the Declaration, or they may in some cases be allocated by the Board. In many cases, a dwelling unit will have its own parking space allocated to it. Therefore, the unit owner using the space does not hold legal title to the space, but has the exclusive right to use it. The unit owner is free to use the parking space subject to any restrictions in the condominium corporation’s governing documents.

However, some issues may arise where users of exclusive-use parking spaces begin to swap or lease out their spaces. As you can appreciate, the lack of separate legal title for each separate space can make it difficult for the condominium corporation to keep track of which unit owner is parking in which space, especially when units are being sold and new owners are moving into the condominium.

The condominium corporation can avoid the foregoing difficulties by setting out specific provisions, either through a by-law or rule, for the swapping or leasing of spaces and the requirement that the unit owners who are swapping or leasing the spaces notify the condominium corporation immediately so that it can maintain an accurate parking record. The by-law or rule could also include a provision that terminates the swap or lease of a space upon the transfer of the condominium unit by one of the affected owners. This will ensure that an owner purchasing a unit in the condominium can rely on the allocation in the Declaration. Alternatively, it may be possible to allow for “permanent assignments” of exclusive-use parking spaces. Our general recommendation is that such assignments be approved by the condominium corporation and registered on title to all affected units.