By Alex Smale – Owners Corporation Manager
Incorrect parking in an Owners Corporation is one of the most common problems reported to strata managers. It can be immensely frustrating to have someone else park in your space or to see visitor spaces filled with resident cars.
In large townhouse estates with internal roads, it is also common for residents to incorrectly park along the sides of these roads which can have potentially lethal consequences as it can obstruct access for emergency services vehicles.
This article sets out some of the ways in which incorrect parking in an Owners Corporation can be handled.
What rules are in place in relation to parking?
The Model Rules stipulate the below in relation to parking:
“4.2 Vehicles and parking on common property
An owner or occupier of a lot must not, unless in the case of an emergency, park or leave a motor vehicle or other vehicle or permit a motor vehicle or other vehicle—
(a) to be parked or left in parking spaces situated on common property and allocated for other lots; or
(b) on the common property so as to obstruct a driveway, pathway, entrance or exit to a lot; or
(c) in any place other than a parking area situated on common property specified for that purpose by the owners corporation.”
If a car is parked in a way that breaches the Model Rules, the Owners Corporation will be able to issue the offender with a notice to rectify breach. If the behaviour continues after two breach notices have been issued, the matter may be taken to VCAT.
You can see that the model rules make no mention of visitor car parking or parking in private car spaces. Clause 4.3 of Schedule 1 of the Owners Corporation Act 2016 allows for the Owners Corporation to make rules regarding vehicles and parking on common property. This means that an Owners Corporation can make additional rules to manage these issues. It is worthwhile reviewing what rules your Owners Corporation has in place and looking into amending them if they are not adequate for your needs.
What other options are there for incorrect parking on common property?
Some Owners Corporations choose to change the environment to dissuade incorrect parking. A common solution is to install “no standing” or “no parking” signs in areas where residents routinely incorrectly park.
Another possibility, if you find that residents are often parking on common property lawns for example, is to install plants or physical barriers in these areas. A more extreme solution would be to investigate creating additional visitor car parking at the property, if there is sufficient space.
Finally, if poor parking habits are endemic at your Owners Corporation and nothing else has eased the problem, you may want to investigate entering a towing agreement. It is worth noting that the Owners Corporation may be considered liable for any damage to the car and further there may be consequences to not following the dispute procedure outlined in the Owners Corporation Act and rules. Towing is still a legal grey area and agreements should only be entered into after careful consideration and legal advice.
What if someone is incorrectly parking in my private car space?
If your car space is on your title, it is your private property. If you find that someone else is parking in your space, you may want to contact your strata manager. If you know who is parking in your space or which lot they belong to, your strata manager may be able to have a word with them. However, as this issue relates to your private property, your Owners Corporation is limited in how they can resolve the issue.
In the first instance, you may want to leave a note on the car or approach them in a friendly manner as they may not realise they are parked incorrectly. If they persist in parking in your space, you may want to consider calling the police as they are trespassing on your private property.
Otherwise, you may want to put in an official complaint to your Owners Corporation Manager. It is recommended that you ensure you have sufficient evidence (such as photos or a log of the times). Once a complaint is received the Owners Corporation may decide to hold a grievance meeting to discuss the matter. The Owners Corporation may decide to issue a breach which will provide the offender with 28 days to rectify the issue. If the behaviour persists, the Owners Corporation can issue another 28-day notice. Once this is issued, the matter can then be taken to VCAT if it persists.
Finally, some owners choose to install collapsible bollards in their space to prevent others from parking there. It is worthwhile noting that you will need the approval of the Owners Corporation before you go ahead with an installation such as this as it will alter the external appearance of the property. If you are on a strata committee and this is a recurring problem, you may want to consider coming up with an approved contractor and style of bollard for your Owners Corporation.
This article was first written for and published in the Look Up Strata VIC Magazine.