75

I work in a downtown environment, and everyone in our company is assigned a parking spot in the lot. There are numerous lots that charge anywhere from $5 to $10 a day to park within blocks of my office.

I don't use my spot because I ride the bus. The idea to rent out my parking spot popped into my head as I was walking by one of the 10-dollar-a-day lots; I figured that it would be over $300 a month if I let someone use my spot. I checked the company handbook and there is nothing in there about the assigned parking spots other than not to park in someone else's. Do you think this would be an ethical issue or otherwise problematic?

The parking spot won't ever be given to anyone else; it was included in the offer letter that I would have a free parking spot in this area because it is hard to find a place to park.

closed as primarily opinion-based by gnat, Masked Man, dwizum, JakeGould, Dukeling Apr 30 '18 at 8:01

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 3
    Does the spot is considered a part of your income when it comes to taxes? – abukaj Apr 26 '18 at 14:47
  • 48
    What you're attempting to do is implement your own parking cash out. Some companies allow this, and California even has a law requiring employers to offer it in some circumstances: arb.ca.gov/planning/tsaq/cashout/cashout.htm – aem Apr 26 '18 at 16:18
  • 5
    @aem That program looks different. Specifically, it refers to subsidized parking, i.e. find a spot and the company reimburses you. This is significantly different than an assigned spot in a company-owned lot. – MooseBoys Apr 27 '18 at 4:31
  • 1
    @MooseBoys: According to the linked PDF, it doesn't apply to a company-owned lot, but it does apply to some cases of company-leased parking and other cases where the employee isn't responsible for finding a spot. – user2357112 supports Monica Apr 28 '18 at 0:03
  • 1
    Alternatively, you could carpool with someone that lives close to your own home: they put the car and you put the parking spot. You can always call them your chauffeur if someone asks. – Diego Sánchez Apr 29 '18 at 11:14
219

Unethical, unwise, and potentially a severe career limiting move.

Assigned spots are not just for convenience, they are for security. The company, and perhaps the building as well, will want to know who is in that spot. If it's not you, then there's going to be a problem.

This is the equivalent of renting out a company laptop because you are not using it.

Yes, really. It poses nearly the identical liability risks, and the same ethical ones. You would be misusing company property assigned to you and opening up the company to liability.

  • 3
    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – enderland Apr 26 '18 at 20:21
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    This answer seems to assume it's a private parking lot. If it's a space in a public garage, do you think there would be the same security concern? – Barmar Apr 27 '18 at 21:26
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    @Barmar if it's a public parking lot, how do you register for a spot without a car? They'll ask for your license plate to register it. They wouldn't give it to you if you rent a spot with no registration of your vehicle, because they can't enforce the rental contract without knowing what cars will be in the spot. – Nelson Apr 29 '18 at 3:09
  • 1
    Only equivalent if that laptop was given to you with permission to use for your personal activities too... – rackandboneman Apr 29 '18 at 12:47
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    I think its a stretch to say that renting out a laptop poses nearly identical liability risks – Brad Thomas Apr 29 '18 at 15:29
105

Let your boss know that you don't require your parking place.

It can then be allocated to someone else in the business who would appreciate it for their own commute.

It's really unlikely that you'll be allowed to sub-let it for your own profit.

84

At a previous employer we could either have a reserved spot (after 15 years it was in a garage, before that surface lot) or we could choose to have the bus ticket subsidized. Couldn't do both.

I your case I would have a discussion with your supervisor. Mention that you use mass transit. Ask about (maybe partial) reimbursement for your bus pass.

  • 4
    This is a great idea, but it doesn't really answer the question of whether it would be ethical to rent the space or not. – David K Apr 26 '18 at 15:11
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    +1 This is a brilliant suggestion. It answers the question very well as the ethics cannot be answered without direct knowledge of the company policies, this has a very practical suggestion. – KalleMP Apr 26 '18 at 16:01
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    @DavidK: Well, the question could be read as: "I don't use the parking spot reserved for me, is there some way to exchange it for a different perk?" - and this is the answer to that question :-). – sleske Apr 26 '18 at 16:15
  • @sleske The problem is, when someone comes along with your version of the question and we vote to close it as a duplicate of this one, there will be complains about how that question is different from this one. – Dmitry Grigoryev Apr 27 '18 at 9:34
  • @DmitryGrigoryev that isn't a problem, it is an opportunity to edit one or other question to create a canonical question – Qsigma Apr 29 '18 at 6:19
57

Ask your boss about what they think about this idea. The company owns the spot, so this is something they need to be okay with.

If the thought of asking bothers you, you already have your answer.

  • 3
    It's the company who rents that parking space. Sub-renting it without the company's knowledge or consent would be wrong? At the least it would potentially be contravening any agreement held between the relevant parking authority and the company. – Snow Apr 26 '18 at 13:39
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    @Snow right, that's why you need to check with the boss to see if it's okay. (It probably isn't, for various reasons including legal ones as you mention) – Erik Apr 26 '18 at 13:43
  • We don't know if the company even owns the spot. The company may be renting the spot from another party. – gerrit Apr 27 '18 at 9:16
  • I think you should delete or temper the "If the thought of asking bothers you, you already have your answer." The thought of asking for a raise bothers me, too, but there's nothing unethical about that, just uncomfortable. – msouth Apr 29 '18 at 9:22
18

(A mild variation of the above comments) Approach your boss or whomever is responsible for assigning parking to employees and ask them what they will give you if you voluntarily give up your spot.

Possibilities (nobody jump my case over this) are any tickets to sporting events floating around, stuff in the Marketing closet, an extra vacation day, extra paid training, etc. Most companies wouldn't pay cash for it, but yours might. If it ends up being nothing, so be it.

That makes it the company's decision and completely legitimate, avoiding any ethics issues. Also you're giving the company a little bit of flexibility which they will likely appreciate.

Another possibility is to give your spot to an employee that does not get one. You can score major brownie points for this, especially if that employee has a genuine need for it such as a disability or are expecting. Or a major client.

  • 1
    +1 The first would be your easiest solution and ethically very sound but the company has to exchange a perk that has a low marginal cost (unless they are renting it themselves) for equivalent of cash. The last suggestion would be ethically pretty good and would seldom raise jealousy amongst the lower staff if they know the spot recipient got it as a favour from a friend and not from unfair treatment by management, the company would loose nothing and it may be the the easiest for the company to authorise as it has no liability for them. In all cases ask first. – KalleMP Apr 26 '18 at 16:07
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    Yes, I love these suggestions too. I would only add that if the person who parks in your parking spot doesn't have a disability, or doesn't use the car to pick up his/her kids, that you make a deal with that co-worker that you can use his/her car anytime you want during his/her work hours (assuming that your personal insurance and your company's HR allow it of course). This way, even if you never use the car, that co-worker is less likely to see the parking spot as a gift, and is, therefore, less likely to resent you should you ever take your parking spot back if you ever need it again. – Stephan Branczyk Apr 26 '18 at 20:20
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    @KalleMP it may have a low marginal cost, but it probably has an opportunity cost: the company may wish to expand, or be able to give the space to sub-contractors, visitors or temporary workers, or lease it to neighbours. – Qsigma Apr 29 '18 at 6:28
8

You want to rent your space out. So obviously you don't need a parking space. So your company is paying out money for a parking space for you that you don't need.

If you don't need the space, you tell your company so they can give it to someone else. You have no rights to the space except parking your car there. Since you have no right to rent the space, whoever rents it has no right to keep their car there, so they can be charged with trespassing, clamped, etc.

If this gets found out, you can be sure to lose your parking space forever, but a worse outcome is not unlikely.

6

If this is something you want to do, and you feel comfortable enough asking, do ask.

But don't ask your boss: while they might have an answer, the odds are your boss isn't the person who has the final say on this. Worst case is your boss says yes, you do it, but it's actually not permitted, and you get in trouble anyway - your boss approving it doesn't necessarily make it okay for you (they will also probably get in trouble, but not as much as you much of the time).

Ask HR in writing. They're the ones who would represent the business itself, and can be treated as the final word, and asking and getting their permission will protect you if something goes south. They're also very very likely to say no, unless it's officially permitted in documentation, but they're the one to ask.

  • 2
    Or if one has a good relationship with the boss have them ask HR on your behalf. This way HR knows your boss is ok with it and does not need to get his OK later. Either way chances are slim. – KalleMP Apr 26 '18 at 16:00
  • This is firm specific. At my old employer, my boss, on a number of occasions, gave me permission to do things that HR didn't like and he simply told them as much, case closed. I can see how at a big firm with a giant HR dep't, that might not be the case. – Dean MacGregor Apr 29 '18 at 20:40
2

Do you think this would be an ethical issue or otherwise problematic?

This space is not yours to rent. That seems clearly indicated by "I checked the company handbook and there is nothing in there about the assigned parking spots other than not to park in someone else's". If you rented it to someone, they would be parking in someone else's space.

Relying on the fact that the company handbook doesn't say that you cannot rent out assigned spots is rather silly. It also doesn't say that you cannot pitch a tent in that spot and live there. It also doesn't say that you cannot paint the spot in your favorite colors. It doesn't say that you can dig out the spot and turn it into a barbecue pit. Lots of things are omitted from handbooks. Those omissions don't give you blanket permission for everything else. I'm sure you already know that.

But if you ask permission first, and then follow the company's guidance, it will be ethical and will not be problematic.

Any other route could lead to both ethical issues and/or problems for you at work.

Alternatively, you could ask the company to give you the parking benefit in cash (presumably whatever it costs them to actually provide the spot). Or, you could ask that they pay your bus fares instead of giving you the spot.

-1

There's nothing unethical about using a good in a way that is different from its intended use so long as it doesn't harm anyone. That being said, some bosses and companies are paranoid (see the comments/chat on the accepted answer) and will not like you doing that. It's possible that your employment contract already has a provision which disallows you from letting someone else use the spot. In that case you should definitely not attempt to sublet it even if I'm wrong in my next paragraph.

It seems more likely that the contract is silent on whether or not you have sublet rights. In that case what do you have to gain? You say the daily rate on spots is $5-$10. You're not going to get someone to pay you the max daily rate for everyday of the month so it's nowhere near worth $300/month. Where I used to park, the daily rate was about $5 and if you wanted a month long spot the charge was $50. That's the price I pay to the lot itself not some guy who says it's his spot. Maybe you could get half that from someone so really your max benefit is probably $25 for the month.

While there is nothing unethical about you using a spot that is a part of you compensation package for a car that you don't own, it is not worth it. It's probably not worth your time to even find this someone and it's not worth any potential hassle that it might cause either.

  • No harm done? The company is paying for the parking space, one way or another, so that an employee can come to work without problems and doesn't have to hunt for a parking spot. The employee doesn't park there, so the company would want to give the space to someone who needs it. – gnasher729 Apr 29 '18 at 20:56
  • @gnasher729 The company pays me $X per year in salary. If I don't need X the company would like to pay me $(X-y) instead. Should I go tell my boss to cut my pay so someone else who needs it can have it? The parking spot is a fringe benefit of being an employee. The total compensation the employee receives ensures they find a way to work one way or another. That the compensation package includes a non-cash good doesn't change that. – Dean MacGregor Apr 29 '18 at 21:03

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