Board Towing Quarantined Residents

(WSVN) - If you have lost your job, it’s tough trying to take care of your family. Now imagine your car being towed because you didn’t move it every 48 hours. It’s why one South Florida woman called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Chiara Quinones, board towing residents: “It feels very shocking.”

The feelings come from Chiara, but you may have felt them as you were also laid off.

Chiara Quinones: “Teary eyes, figuring out how I’m going to pay my mortgage in the next two months.”

Chiara has been self quarantined at home with her fiance and two children. Since she doesn’t have a driveway, she moved her car from the garage to a guest spot to give the kids room to play.

Chiara Quinones: “They’re stuck at home, they’re miserable, and I give them very limited time outside.”

She lives at Raintree in Pembroke Pines. One of their rules: a resident can park in a guest spot for 48 hours. Then, they have to move to another guest spot or be towed.

Chiara Quinones: “Being home multitasking, I’m extremely busy. I forgot about the car.”

And then when Chiara didn’t move her car from one guest spot to another after 48 hours…

Chiara Quinones: “I’m like, ‘Where is my car?’ It turned out to be that the car was towed.”

Chiara said the association didn’t give her a warning to move the car, and not just one car was towed. Chiara said many other neighbors’ cars have been hauled away by Raintree, including a first responder’s personal vehicle.

Chiara Quinones: “She’s working, assisting many, many of those contaminated with COVID-19, and she came home, and she realized the car was towed two days prior.”

Chiara had to pay $130 to get her car from the tow yard — not easy for someone just laid off.

Chiara Quinones: “One hundred and thirty dollars could have paid my light bill for April.”

After we contacted Raintree, the property manager emailed back stating, “The increased number of vehicles at home has caused a parking shortage within the community which creates safety issues for all residents.”

But Chiara argues they are actually risking residents’ safety by towing.

Chiara Quinones: “I had to leave my house again and go to an area where I could have been contaminated with the COVID-19.”

The association countered, “Residents parking in guests spots causes others to park in the streets, which leads to fire trucks not being able to get through the neighborhood streets.”

Therefore, the board decided to tow cars.

Chiara’s response? How can towing her car from a parking space clear a street?

Chiara Quinones: “It’s extremely dumb.”

The property management company did add they were not involved with towing. In other words, the Raintree board decided to do it.

Chiara Quinones: “I’m frustrated.”

Well Howard, some people might use a word stronger than frustrating, but can a board legally tow cars during a pandemic?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “Legally, a board can enforce their rules, but this is not right, and this is where you show good judgment. We are in a nationwide crisis. Everyone from the president to the governor to the mayor has said, ‘This is an emergency, and the rules have to be different.’ In this case, give the resident a warning, telling them to move their cars. This is the time to assist your neighbor, not add to their problems.”

The Raintree board’s attorney then contacted us, and he helped a little, telling us the association would temporarily stop towing cars, but Ronnie Bronstein wrote, “This means that those in the townhomes who violate the parking regulations will not be towed for now, but may be subject to fines and violations from the association.”

Chiara Quinones: “I am so happy and thankful for Help Me Howard.”

It’s one less worry for people living through a crisis with enough to worry about.

Chiara Quinones: “Now, they are not going to tow any longer during our self quarantine, so thank you Help Me Howard. Now, we can self quarantine in peace.”

Some associations can be difficult during good times, but now, during tough times, wow, they need to lighten up a little.

If you have questions about your legal rights during the coronavirus, check out the Help Me Howard stories, where we have many of the answers, including what to do if you didn’t get your stimulus money, and if you can’t find your answers there or have a problem you want us to tackle, please get in touch with us.

You can’t always count on your association, but you can always count on Help Me Howard.

CONTACT HELP ME HOWARD:
Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
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