(WSVN) - For more than two decades, a South Florida woman has traveled the U.S. in this van, but now she’s facing parking problems at home. Her association told her that van was actually a recreational vehicle, meaning it had to move, and when she couldn’t get this problem to hit the road, she turned to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Talk about getting your money’s worth out of your vehicle.

Gloria Schmitten, van or RV?: “I love my van. I take very good care of it.”

Gloria has put 260,000 miles traveling the country in her 23-year-old Dodge van.

Gloria Schmitten: “I’ve driven to California. I’ve driven to Yellowstone. I’ve traveled cross-country three times. It’s safe, and it’s very, very comfortable.”

And then while sitting in her driveway, her van made her life very uncomfortable.

Gloria Schmitten: “I got a courtesy letter saying that no RVs were allowed to be parked overnight in this community.”

After 23 years parked here, Gloria’s big van with bucket seats, a TV and a VCR had to go.

Gloria Schmitten: “Because it had a TV, it was therefore an RV. I said, ‘Seventy-five percent of the cars on the road today have a TV for their families. Are they RVs?'”

Gloria was also told the spare tire cover was a problem.

Gloria Schmitten: “He says, ‘There are stickers on the van that says it’s an RV.’ I took pictures of it, and I said to him, ‘Those are decals from camping clubs that I belong to, and nothing says it’s an RV. It’s stickers!'”

Gloria then looked at her registration that lists her vehicle as AU/PR.

Gloria Schmitten: “And I called the Department of Vehicles and said, ‘My code is AU/P. What does that mean?’ And they said, ‘Auto private, like a car a, passenger vehicle.'”

But that didn’t get Gloria out of trouble with her association. This van is an RV in their eyes, and it has to be out of their sight.

Gloria Schmitten: “I want them to leave me alone. Let me have my vehicle in my parking space.”

Well, Howard, is this a van or an RV?

Howard Finkelstein, 7 News Legal Expert: “It’s a van and not a recreational vehicle, and I say that based on state, county and city law, which defines an RV as a vehicle that provides temporary living quarters, like a bathroom, a bed, a kitchen. This van has none of those things.”

If every homeowner’s group had an attorney like Andrew Blasi, associations would be a lot easier to deal with for us.

After we exchanged a few emails, Blasi wrote to Gloria: “I have positive news for you. The board at Allegro of Sawgrass Mills will allow the van contingent upon your removal of all of the recreational stickers, lettering and decals from the vehicle.”

When I stopped by to talk to Gloria about it the next day, I helped her remove those stickers.

Gloria Schmitten: “It is over. I can keep my van.”

Keep it in the driveway it’s been parked in for 23 years.

Gloria Schmitten: “I am so happy I called you. You have given me such peace of mind to know that I had help.”

Glad it worked out, and I know you can get worked up if you get a warning from your association, but if you think you’re right, be patient. Read your documents, send an email or a letter to the management company, every board member and the attorney. Hopefully, you can settle things quickly and easily, like in Gloria’s case.

Traveling miles and miles and not arriving at a solution? Ready to drive in a different direction? Steer it our way, and let us try to peel back the window to a perfect destination.

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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