Market Trends

Branded Fleet Vehicles Puts Drivers in Conflict with Homeowner Associations

September 22, 2008

by Mike Antich - Also by this author

By Mike Antich

One of the things I love about the annual conference of the Automotive Fleet & Leasing Association (AFLA) is the ability to spend quality time networking with fleet industry experts. A case in point was a conversation with Bret Watson, CAFM, national fleet manager for Sprint Nextel Corp. Bret told me several companies are considering branding previously non-branded fleet vehicles and this has generated employee concerns. "This affects a lot of drivers," said Bret. "Employees are calling up their employers saying 'you can't logo my vehicle because I then can't park in my subdivision – it doesn't allow commercial vehicles.'" The question was whether these employee concerns were legitimate.

Upon researching this topic, I discovered there is some merit to these employee concerns. When a company decides to brand its fleet vehicles with either corporate logos or full-vehicle advertising wraps, it may inadvertently create a situation that puts employees in conflict with homeowner association restrictions on the parking of commercial vehicles in common areas. Most homeowner associations allow commercial vehicles as long as they are garaged, but not all commercial fleet vehicles can fit in a garage due to vehicle height or length. In addition, there is no national uniformity to homeowner association parking restrictions; they run the gamut, with each local entity having the right to determine its own restrictions governing commercial vehicles.


Restrictions on Commercial Fleet Vehicles

An estimated 50 million Americans live in homeowner association-governed communities. Approximately, 6,000-8,000 new community associations are formed every year, including condominiums, cooperatives, and planned communities.

Homeowner associations, or HOAs, are formal legal entities created to maintain common areas. They have the authority to enforce deed restrictions. Most condominiums, town home developments, and many newer single-family subdivisions are governed by HOAs, usually created when the development is built. Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions (CC&R) are the governing documents that dictate how homeowners association operates and what rules owners must obey. These documents and rules are legally enforceable by the homeowners association, unless a specific provision conflicts with federal, state, or local laws. It is fairly common and permissible among HOAs to restrict or, in more extreme cases, prohibit the parking of commercial vehicles. Many HOAs do not allow overnight parking of commercial vehicles in the common areas of their communities. Branded vehicles of local vendors or tradesmen, such as plumbers, electricians, HVAC, etc., are allowed to temporarily park within an HOA-administered community, as long as they do not park overnight. Restrictions governing commercial vehicles are typically found in the CC&Rs governing parking privileges. Usually, these restrictions require a commercial vehicle be garaged with the garage door down.

HOAs can be overzealous in enforcing parking restrictions since parking spaces are at a premium in many subdivisions. Parking committees post Day-Glo orange violation stickers on vehicles and employ roving tow trucks with instructions to hook and tow violators. One HOA property owner told the story of a friend who visited her with a personal vehicle displaying his Web site address on the back window. She reported receiving in the mail a notice of violation warning that no commercial vehicles are allowed parked on the property overnight and that any vehicles with lettering are considered commercial vehicles. This HOA was within its legal rights since a CC&R provision stated that no commercial vehicles are to be parked, stored, or kept within the property unless it can be stored in the unit's garage.

Legally, HOAs have the authority to control the type of vehicles allowed to park within the communities they administer. However, restricting certain kinds of commercial vehicles becomes problematic, especially if the vehicle is a resident's primary transportation. The common retort is that the individual should have read the CC&Rs before buying a home in an HOA-administered community. What happens if a company decides to brand its vehicles after an individual becomes a property owner in an HOA? Sometimes, company drivers have a legal recourse. Most CC&Rs allow their provisions to be amended if a certain percentage of the property owners agree to the change.


Taking Legal Recourse

In a 2006 lawsuit, Fowler vs. Loucks, a homeowner was prevented from driving his commercial vehicle home after work. In August 2003, the Loucks moved into the Braecrest subdivision in the Seattle area. James Loucks worked for Robison Construction Inc. (RCI). In connection with his employment, Loucks drove an RCI tool truck home and parked it on the street in front of his house. After his neighbors, the Fowlers, told the Loucks about the residential use restriction, the RCI truck continued to be parked in the neighbor's view. When unable to resolve the issue with the Loucks, the Fowlers contacted Loucks' employer, RCI, in an attempt to prevent Loucks from taking the truck to the Braecrest subdivision. RCI ordered Loucks not to take the truck home. Ultimately, the Loucks were able to persuade  enough neighbors to revise the CC&R governing commercial vehicles; however, it took years of litigation and counterlitigation.

Let me know what you think.

[email protected]



  1. 1. Debbie Mize [ September 24, 2008 @ 01:25PM ]

    You are right on with the article. Our HOA doesn't allow any lettering, vanpool vehicles even without lettering (defined as passenger capacity over 8), or trucks over 1 ton whether or not they have any lettering. Seems like they just get more and more controlling. The vanpool I think is really odd -- if it is a conversion van it is okay as it only seats 8 but if it is a 12 passenger (the same van) configuration, it is not allowed.
    Many of our homeowners have had to turn in utility vehicles and purchase personal ones as they can't get them in the garage and can't park them outside. They then have to drive 30-40 minutes to get to the truck each morning to make their first call as well as slowing the process for after-hour emergency calls.

    I'm sure more and more of the newer communities will be on board.

  2. 2. Jeff Coleman [ September 30, 2008 @ 08:27AM ]

    I was interested to read your article regarding the restrictions employees may face when parking their company vehicles with logos or advertising in HOA controlled common areas. We have had this issue come up repeatedly, even with relatively unobtrusive pick up trucks with just a small company logo on the door.

    Some of our drivers have argued that this type of restriction should exempt them from having company ID on their vehicle. We have so far resisted this argument as we feel that it becomes an issue of fairness to other drivers that don’t live in areas where restrictions are in place. The imperfect solution has been to require the driver to park elsewhere, either at the closest company office (not always where they work) or at another secure location if they are able to make such arrangements.

    I would also point out however, that there are frequently municipal parking codes restricting overnight parking of commercial trucks in residential areas. Since many of the trucks we allow to go home with a driver are full-size service vans with extensive graphics packages, ladder racks, etc; they are frequently subject to being cited by local parking enforcement. These drivers are similarly affected if they do not have access to off-street parking; the company does not pay for the citations and the driver is required to park at the company yard.

    So, my overall take on the HOA parking restrictions is that they are not much different from local city/county parking ordinances. We deal with both situations the same way.

  3. 3. Marion Crow [ October 06, 2008 @ 08:56AM ]

    Branded vehicles may create issues with HOAs, but in some cities and on Parkways as well.
    Logos are not an insurmountable problem. If the vehicle body is metal, by using magnetic strips the same color as the vehicle body , you can cover the logos. We found this worked in many HOAs.

    However, vehicle wraps are a different story. If a company is considering wrapping their vehicles, I would encourage them to research state and city restrictions. If they have vehicles all over the US, this may mean serious digging. Even then you may find while one government official says it is okay, the local law enforcement may have other ideas when the vehicles hit the street.

  4. 4. SammyChitown [ October 17, 2008 @ 05:09PM ]

    I live in an single family home in far west suburb of Chicago. I found out a couple things about associations. and commercial vans. First off if its NOT a gated single family home community that the streets are governed by the city, and associations can NOT say you can't park on the street. Also the home owners book has a 24 hour restriction on commercial vans in driveways, along with boats, rv's etc. The funny thing is I make sure the van is not in the drive way more then 24 hours at a time,and on street for the most part (can't leave it on street overnight cause the town has no parking from 2am-5am). The funny thing is my company just put tracking devices on our vans. I now have proof that the truck doesn't sit for 24 hours at a time in the driveway. But I know through the company that they can use this info from the tracking device for legal reasons too. And my boss told me he can give me legal paperwork that it is not sitting in the driveway for more then 24 hours at a time. They are still bugging me about it. Do you think they are going beyond their legal rights being that they have no proof and I do??? I have lived here for more then 3 years and they are now bugging me this year, what happened the first 3 years,did they not care? I was also thinking of putting security cams on the driveway with a DVR recorder with 2 cams facing the driveway, can I also use that for proof that the van does not sit for 24 hours,would that hold up as legal if the time is stamped on the screen??? I would not be fighting this if i would of known from the start. We asked the salesman of the home builder if work vans were a problem, he said NO. But we did not have it written down so no legal proof. 10 months later we close and receive the HOA book stating about commercial vehicles. Talk about being stabbed in the back. What to do? Like I stated earlier we skated for 3 years no questions asked, and bam, notice in the mail this year. Whats up with that is that even legal to do??

  5. 5. Angie [ October 20, 2009 @ 06:10PM ]

    Yes I see what all of you are saying, but what about the noise that some of these commercial vehicles make. I'm having the same problem with a resident with a Tow Truck. When he leaves in the morning, it makes a very high pitched sound and when he come in at night, I can hear the vibration of the truck. I don't believe commercial vehicles should be allowed period in subdivision unless you have your own private property. It's looks very tacky, ghetto, and in my subdivision, the driveways are too small for a large vehicle of that size. Even when parking on the side of the street, it takes up too much space. My HOA is too relaxed. They will send letters, but there is little action after that. Just my opinion.

  6. 6. Eric [ February 28, 2016 @ 05:37PM ]

    Unfortunately, not everyone works in an office driving BMW. Most tradesmen are making more than enough to live in snooty HOA's regardless. So, I laugh at these Pleasantville remarks.

  7. 7. William C Bartlett [ January 03, 2017 @ 11:46AM ]

    It is my understanding, that a pickup truck, with a toolbox across the back of the bed, behind the cab, makes the truck a commercial vehicle. Are there any Florida Homeowner cases showing this to be a fact?

  8. 8. Daniel Wangchomchantra [ February 08, 2017 @ 09:51PM ]

    My lease agreement didn't have HOA CC&Rs reflected and only 3 years into renting here has my landlord provided me with them. Now I'm being threatened with $50(per observation) in fees to remove my primary transportation from the property.

  9. 9. Ramona Williams [ March 23, 2017 @ 08:42AM ]

    We are buying in new development and I think I may have figured out an alternative to this. We should not be shut out of communities because of this. The HOA restrictions will not allowed lettered vehicles. Like the genius Marion Chow above suggested, I found a company that provides magnetic covers for your commercial vehicles. Husband just has to remove them every morning before leaving for work. I am so excited about this idea as I too just found this out post contract ratification.

  10. 10. Sarah [ September 30, 2017 @ 12:30PM ]

    We are buying a house in community and their only rules are no writing on the vehicle. We said we will cover with white magnets and they are saying no to that! If it is covered can they do this?

  11. 11. Sarah K [ November 20, 2017 @ 03:26PM ]

    This is becoming a major issue...Trades are becoming increasingly discriminated against. Being charged a fee to come into a neighborhood to do work, having to use a separate entrance, and not being able to park in your own driveway. There has to be a way to litigate this on a larger scale. I'm ready if you are!

  12. 12. Lori Wilson [ December 20, 2017 @ 02:55AM ]

    We are buying in new development and I think I may have figured out an alternative to this. We should not be shut out of communities because of this.

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Mike Antich has covered fleet management and remarketing for more than 20 years and was inducted in the Fleet Hall of Fame in 2010.

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