Wish your community or HOA had the budget to hire a third-party parking enforcement company? Although that would be nice, there is another option: parking self-enforcement! Here are eight things to consider before starting to enforce your own parking program:
1. Develop a parking enforcement system
An enforcement plan is a vital piece in creating a complete and successful parking solution. A good parking enforcement system should outline:
- Who will be doing the enforcement
- When enforcement will take place (frequency, time, and duration)
- How it will be conducted (checking every car on property, sections of the property, and based off of what data)
- What the consequences will be (warning notice, monetary fine, immobilization/boot, or legal impound)
2. Research legal requirements and regulations
There are many local, city, county, and state laws and regulations that are designed to protect vehicle owners, property owners, and enforcement agents on private property. Although many laws are more or less uniform across the U.S., in some instances there are fundamental differences.
Help your community thrive by familiarizing yourself with your state’s laws surrounding parking enforcement. Tip: You can usually find these under your state’s motor vehicle codes.
3. Seek legal counsel
You want your parking enforcement system to be effective and legal. Plus, court expenses, legal fees, and lawsuits can be costly to your budget and reputation. Consult a licensed attorney who specializes in HOA’s or multifamily communities to review your enforcement plan.
Doing this prior to self-enforcement will give you peace of mind knowing that you have a parking solution with an added another layer of legal protection!
4. Put together your team
Now that you have your parking enforcement system (and legal protections) in place, you need a team to help you implement it. Conducting parking enforcement can be time-consuming and stressful when undertaken by only one individual. We recommend sharing parking duties among team members for better balance and management.
If you are a part of an HOA board, establish a committee or team of volunteers to dedicate a portion of their time to tracking parking permits or violations, completing administrative duties, and leading communication.
5. Hire a reputable tow company
It's no secret that tow vendors have a bad reputation. This is mainly because they are at the end of the enforcement process, the ones who actually impound or tow a vehicle. Some parking enforcement towing companies unfortunately practice predatory towing, while some follow the law to the letter. When choosing a tow partner for your community, consider the following:
- Agent signature. Ensure that the tow company requires an authorized agent signature before impounding any vehicle. This protects your residents from predatory tow practices.
- Fees. Specify what fees the association will agree to, if any. Although most states regulate what tow companies can charge vehicle owners, some tow companies charge associations extra fees for items like “call-outs.”
- Get indemnified! Be sure the tow company indemnifies your association for any laws it may break. If your association does not have adequate indemnification provisions in place, you may be responsible for hefty fines for any laws that are broken.
- Check credentials. Always check for current licenses and insurance to ensure that the company is legitimate.
6. Establish communication channels
Maintaining clear communication is the key to avoiding road bumps in your parking enforcement system. Want to keep everything running smoothly? Try these tips:
- Have a clear channel to communicate live information to your enforcement team. For instance, if you are walking in your parking lot at 10:30 pm, will your team be aware that a vehicle received special permission to park at 10:29 pm?
- Establish an open channel for residents to communicate with the parking enforcement team and define how disputes will be resolved.
- Determine how your tow vendor will report on actions taken over the course of the night. If an upset resident comes to you about their vehicle, you want to be up to date beforehand.
7. Practice safety
Parking enforcement is often done in the evening or at night, when visibility is low and the risk of crime is higher. Here are some ways to stay safe when enforcing your parking:
- Always try to self-enforce in a group of two or more.
- Inform your team before you begin enforcement. Use an enforcement schedule that is only visible to the team.
- Keep an open channel of communication while conducting enforcement. Cell phones and two-way radios work great.
- Wear bright clothes or a high-visibility vest that identifies who you are and what you are doing.
- Wear a vest or jacket printed with the name of the community so that residents can easily identify you and know that you belong in the community.
- Don’t leave any personal contact information on violations or enforcement materials. Residents and their guests should always be directed to a neutral phone number, address, or email for all parking concerns.
8. Provide enforcement materials
Investing in professional parking enforcement materials provides consistency and legitimacy to your enforcement plan. Clear materials, like signs and warnings, set expectations for residents and are also affordable. Consider these materials as part of your parking solution:
- Tow and parking enforcement signs
- Warning and parking violation stickers
- Templated email responses and notices
A solid parking enforcement system will help you better manage your parking, even if you are self-enforcing. As an added bonus, using a parking enforcement software such as Parking Boss can help you more efficiently self-enforce parking by tracking vehicle license plates, issuing violations, and managing guest parking. Want to learn more? Schedule a demo now!