HOA parking dispute may force Minnesota family from home

For one Forest Lake family, a dispute over a parking spot with their homeowners' association (HOA) has thrown their future into uncertainty.

The disagreement, which only arose last month, comes despite the family having lived there for over a decade. They maintain that they had verbal permission to use the spot, but this agreement was never formalized in writing.

"This is the only home our autistic son has ever known… to leave here would be detrimental," explained Michelle Stream.

Michelle and her husband Greg moved into their townhome in 2008. The community has guest parking situated at the back of the shared driveways. However, after 15 years, a dispute over these spots has left the Streams on edge and losing hope.

"It's fleeting by the day, to be perfectly honest," Greg confessed.

The crux of the issue revolves around Greg’s take-home company truck, which he is required to have on-hand due to being on call. Satellite images show the truck parked in that shared spot in the past and the Streams say they had verbal permission to use the spot.

"Before we moved in, we asked specifically about parking the work vehicle here, and they said it’s fine," explained Michelle.

However, in mid-June, they received a notice from their HOA of a guest parking violation, instructing them to move the truck to the garage or driveway.

Unable to fit the large vehicle into the garage, they relocated it to their driveway. But soon, another warning arrived, stating that commercial vehicles are not permitted in driveways. And Greg's company doesn't permit street parking for its work vehicles.

"We sent an appeal, asking for permission to continue to use the guest parking, as we had been doing for 15 years," she said. "And that we remember there being prior approval."

In a statement, the HOA said, "Neither the Association nor the Streams have any written record of an exception to this rule being granted. The board regrets any inconvenience and will continue to work with Mr. and Mrs. Stream in the hope of reaching a fair and equitable solution."

But for the Streams, none of this feels fair. "It leaves us with two options," lamented Greg. "Either I have to leave my job or we have to leave this house."

The family has a meeting with the HOA scheduled for mid-August, where they hope to find a resolution to their predicament. Yet, they're preparing for the worst, anticipating little faith in a positive outcome.