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There are many minor to imposing things that can go wrong when you live in a residential community with shared outdoor space. Those who live in exceptionally close proximity to their neighbors -- to the point of brushing shoulders in the communal hallway -- may at various points have to forge communication, or negotiation, concerning noise level, patio decorations, trash/recycling pick-up, and more. Another fairly common hot topic among neighbors in a townhouse, condo, or apartment community involves parking. As these communities almost always afford limited parking, each renter is normally assigned a specific parking space or cluster of spaces and asked to refrain from parking in the spaces assigned to others. Problems arise when one neighbor comes home to find a car usurping one of his or her spaces when permission to do so has not been requested.

The wisest steps for dealing such a problem sync with the typical strategy you should follow concerning any mishap among neighbors or your lease partner. And though the basic steps are simple and straightforward, you should always trust your own insight into the specific neighbor causing the problem and your knowledge of any community guidelines on the topic. Regardless of how you ultimately choose to address the problem, it is best to address is quickly and calmly so it doesn't have the chance to mushroom and become an ongoing source of annoyance to you.

Communicating Clearly and Firmly

Some renters who have experienced the problem of a neighbor (or a neighbor's guest) "borrowing" one of their parking spaces have expressed wariness to personally address the person causing the problem. While sometimes such nervousness is wholly unfounded, there are cases, unfortunately, in which the confronted party responds with pettiness, insolence, or merely does not respond at all -- allowing the troublesome pattern to continue so that an escalated solution must be sought. Luckily, such cases seem to be the minority; most neighbors will be glad to give your a hearing so long as you speak respectfully, rather than accusingly. If you choose to take up the matter neighbor-to-neighbor, try to be open to the possibility that this breach of the communal parking arrangement is simply an oversight.

Once you have brought the problem to your neighbor's attention, chances are that will be the extent of what you need to do in order to regain your parking space. If the problem continues, or your neighbor expresses the clear intention for it to continue, this is when you should go to your landlord or the property management office. Also, you can opt to involve the management office from the beginning if you have reason to feel uncomfortable confronting your neighbor face-to-face. An additional option for those who don't wish to confront their neighbors not out of any fear of recrimination but out of shyness is to leave a note on the windshield. This option is also viable for those whose comings and goings do not conveniently coincide with their neighbor's.

Deciding What to Do

There are situations in which authorities become involved to mandate that a car be removed, but these are few and far between. So long as you and the party behind the car in your space are reasonable people, you will be able to resolve the problem long before any police intervention would be necessitated. If, however, the car parked in your space is unfamiliar to you and sits there unclaimed, possibly broken down, for some time, it may need to be towed off the premises. If this is the case, you may want to first check with the management office on protocol for reporting a car parked in your spot.

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