(WSVN) - We had not seen it before: a valet company is accused of parking customers’ cars in handicapped spaces. Then, when Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser started looking into it, we got a legal surprise.

It’s not hard to tell how Fernando feels about the building where he rents.

Fernando Fandino, valet using handicapped spaces: “I call it Penitentiary Bay, or Purgatory Bay, and the reason for that is because there are these draconian rules and regulations by management that makes no sense.”

Like rules governing the pool.

Fernando Fandino: “Before the pandemic we were only allowed to take one guest to the swimming pool. The majority of people have a father and a mother, so if you take your father, you cannot take your mother.”

And, like many South Florida buildings, parking for residents is scarce.

Fernando Fandino: “My apartment has four bedrooms. It’s a four-bedroom apartment. I only have one parking space.”

Fernando was able to get around that by letting his wife use their one assigned parking space, and he parked in one of the handicapped spaces.

Fernando Fandino: “I’m handicapped, so that’s why I use the handicapped space.”

But Fernando says, many times there was no handicapped space available.

Fernando Fandino: “When I came home, all the spaces were occupied.”

Turns out the spaces were not being used by residents.

Fernando Fandino: “I found out that the valet parking company was using handicapped spaces to park cars that they were not handicapped cars, or the owner was not handicapped.”

Fernando says he took pictures to prove it.

Fernando Fandino: “How do I know that? Because the valet ticket is on the dashboard. This car is parking in handicapped spot; there is no handicap permit.”

Fernando says he asked the valet company to move a car so he could park. They wouldn’t, so he called the police.

Fernando Fandino: “They moved the car before the police came, so now there was no evidence.”

Then good news: Fernando says the management company assigned a handicapped space to him … but took away the assigned parking space his wife used.

Fernando Fandino: “Retaliation, even though they deny it.”

Fernando’s wife is now parking on the street, but that hasn’t stopped him from battling the complex for letting a valet company use spaces intended for handicapped drivers.

Fernando Fandino: “I think this has to be exposed.”

Well, Howard, can a valet company park customers’ cars in the handicapped spaces?

Howard Finkelstein: “It’s a simple question, but it’s not a simple answer. It is not legal for a valet company to use handicapped spaces, but in this case, it’s not illegal. The reason? There is no victim. Residents can park their cars and have an assigned space. That would be a handicapped space if they needed it. Guests are now allowed to park their own cars, so the valet company parks it for them, and while a lawyer can argue it’s not really illegal, it is a bad look for building.”

We contacted the property management company. They referred us to their attorney, who said, “The association has instructed the valet parking company to stop using handicapped spaces for their customers.”

Fernando’s wife won’t have to park on the street much longer. When their lease expires they are moving, from a building that never felt like home to them.

Fernando Fandino: “Things are really awkward, and they’re not very friendly. This is not a very friendly building.”

This was a strange one, and it surprised me that it’s not illegal for a valet company to put cars in a handicapped space at this building but that’s a rarity, because in 99% of the cases, if you put a car in a handicapped space, you are either going to get a big fine or get towed.

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