Driving home from a long day of work to find someone else has parked their car in your personal parking spot, or inviting guests over only to find other residents have taken up the visitors’ spots, is far from pleasant. Unfortunately, these parking problems can be common in strata settings and can lead to disharmony within strata communities. If you’ve found yourself in this situation, you’ll be happy to know that there are steps you can take to solve such problems and stop them from occurring in the future. Keep reading to learn how to solve your strata community’s parking problems.
You may find that many strata property owners and residents who don’t follow parking rules do so because the rules aren’t all that obvious! This is where signage can come in to save the day. Ensure your strata property’s car park has ample signage that differentiates personal and visitor parking spots. We suggest approaching your strata committee to consider signage in the common areas for all spaces as a capital expense, to allow cohesion and avoid mismatched signage which may distract the outlook of the property. If the owners corporation agrees to have new signage created, it’s a good idea to include the maximum period for which a vehicle may be parked within the visitors parking spots on all notices. Being proactive in this way may help prevent future parking problems in your strata community. If you are considering installing signage just for your allocated parking bay, and it is visible from the common areas, it is a good idea to seek approval from the owners corporation before arranging this. You should ensure that it is in keeping with the outlook of the property, and how it is affixed does not impact the common property structure.
By-laws are a set of rules all owners and residents are obliged to follow. If your by-laws don’t cover your strata property’s parking rules, it may be a good idea to update them. They should ideally cover where owners and visitors are allowed to park, any applicable time limits, and a process for dealing with parking-related disputes. You must follow the correct procedures when updating your strata property’s by-laws, as laid out in your state’s strata legislation. We recommend that you and your committee engage a qualified strata law specialist, such as Kemps Petersons Legal, to help with this process. Once the by-laws have been updated, give all owners and residents a copy of the updates. This will allow them to read and abide by the rules around parking in your strata property and let their guests know where they can and cannot park.
If you notice members of your strata community repeatedly break parking rules, it may be best to have a friendly yet direct conversation with them, particularly if they are parking in a space allocated to someone else. We recommend politely explaining the parking rules to the offender and reminding them that all owners and residents must abide by the by-laws. Unfortunately, if the offender is parking in another owner’s parking space, this is considered a civil matter between the two parties and management of the space falls on the owner of the parking spot. If the behaviour continues, it may be wise to alert your strata committee. They can take further action if needed.
If those breaking visitors car park rules do not respond to verbal and written warnings, there are avenues a strata community can take to solve parking issues. However, this will vary a little depending on your state.
The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 and section 650A of The Local Government Act 1993 allow for owners corporations to enter an agreement with their local council for parking management services. This means that the strata committee can approach their local council to patrol and issue parking fines for unauthorised parking in the strata scheme’s parking area.
Section 125 of the Strata Schemes Management Act provides the strata committee with powers to remove a vehicle obstructing common property. However, the process requires issuing a removal notice and waiting five days before acting. This method is best followed for long-term problems such as when a vehicle has been abandoned.
Schedule 4 of the Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 states that an occupier must not park a vehicle in non-designated areas unless they have received approval from the body corporate.
If the occupier is unwilling to co-operate, then it is best to take the formal route and issue a BCCM Form 1 notice to notify the body corporate of the by-law breach. The body corporate can then give the offender a contravention notice. If they still do not comply, the body corporate can take the matter to the Magistrate’s Court for a resolution via an adjudicator or apply for conciliation.
The owners corporation can issue a building rule breach if parking rules are not adhered to. Only VCAT has the power to issue fines to those who continue to breach rules and may impose a penalty of up to $250 if a person has continued to breach a rule. If you’re dealing with a repeat offender who does not respond breach notices, it may be best to take this route.
Parking problems can cause disharmony in strata settings. However, dealing with these issues quickly by addressing the root cause and taking further action when necessary will result in a better community living experience for your and your neighbours.
If you’d like to find out more on drafting by-laws or building rules for your strata property, click here to download our FREE Community Living guide on by-laws and rules. For a consultation to review your current by-laws with the Kemp Peterson team, click here. Alternatively, click here for a free assessment to find out more about the services we offer.