September 01, 2015

Property Law: The Law of “Dibs”

Robert A. Clifford

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You’re patiently waiting in your car for someone to pull out of a parking spot only to have someone come out of nowhere and zip into it without any acknowledgment that you had dibs on it. George Costanza on Seinfeld would have none of that when he stood for weeks in an empty parking spot because the space was “just too good to give up.” How many can relate to that—although perhaps not to that extreme?

Sometimes the law of “dibs” can be slightly aggravating; other times it has escalated into near fistfights or, as ABC-7 in Chicago called it in February 2015, “dibs disputes.” People, especially in big, crowded towns, protect their parking spots. That’s most evident during the winter when people who live on side streets shovel out a parking spot and then claim it to be theirs for weeks or perhaps even the season. They use lawn chairs, mattresses, cones, hand-made signs, hampers, and other paraphernalia from their homes to call dibs.

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