By Douglas S. MacGregor, J.D., M.S.W. and Rachel Brand
We frequently hear about common interest communities, such as HOAs, that ban residents from parking “commercial vehicles” overnight.
The restrictions are intended to keep the community looking like it’s a place where people live. Unfortunately, these restrictions make life difficult for residents who must drive a commercial vehicle for work or for those who own a business and advertise it on their vehicle.
Further, these restrictions often fail to define what a “commercial vehicle” is.
With the lack of further definition, courts generally interpret these restrictions to mean a vehicle with commercial license plates and/or information on it identifying a business.
And, in Colorado, the Uniform Motor Vehicle Law defines the term “commercial vehicle” as a vehicle “used to transport cargo or passengers for hire, or otherwise to further the purposes of a business or commercial enterprise.”
What can you do?
If your governing documents don’t have a specific definition of commercial vehicles, but do restrict them, talk to your board and try to understand their concerns. Try to find out what exactly they are trying to prohibit and why.
For instance, is your HOA trying to ban:
• Just large vehicles? If so, how big?
• All vehicles with signage on the sides? What types of signage – painted or magnetic?
• Certain types of vans with extended side panels?
• Ordinary work trucks with ladders on the sides and toolboxes in back?
Once you and the board get to the bottom of the concerns, you can ask them to draft a definition that very specifically defines a commercial vehicle. Then, you may have more latitude to use a work truck or vehicle that bypasses the association’s standards.
For more information, see Colorado Community Association Law: Condominiums, Cooperatives, and Homeowners Associations, by Douglas S. MacGregor, J.D., M.S.W.