As managers of both residential and non-residential strata estates, one thing is clear to us…no one likes a ‘free-loader’, and especially not one that uses visitors’ parking for his/her own private use.
Whether it’s a resident, a long-term visitor or an employee that continues to park in a visitors’ car space or a person from an adjoining building or commuter who believes that they are ‘above the law’, parking in visitors’ spaces is usually the top of the list of issues facing owners corporations.
Thankfully, 2015 saw the revision of the strata schemes legislation (Strata Schemes Management Act 2015, the “Act”). Amongst many provisions, one notably stood out: patrolling private car parks.
Both Schedule 4 of the Act and s650A of the Local Government Act 1993 enable local councils and owners corporations to enter into agreements, enabling a council’s patrol officer to enforce car parking rules that would previously otherwise only have been enforceable via action at the NSW Civil & Administrative Tribunal. This was cumbersome, time-consuming and usually ineffective and certainly, a waste of the Tribunal’s time.
Importantly, s650A also encompasses community, precinct & neighbourhood schemes, subject to a special resolution ratifying the proposed council deed.
Owners corporations wishing to invite council officers onto their property to enforce rules will usually incur an assessment fee. In addition, they will need to erect legal and approved car parking signage at its own cost.
In practice, we have observed a material change in behaviour from recalcitrant car parkers, however, like any system, this is also open to abuse.
Interestingly, private operating patrol firms generally utilise digital number plate readers, while most councils’ parking officers still tend to use the chalk method. This is prone to abuse by simply removing the chalk mark.
Many councils are now considering new technologies that mitigate abuse and are more “robust” if challenged.
Unfortunately, offenders will always find new places to park, often, parking in lot owners’ private spaces, thereby, creating another problem. These new rules allowing council inspectors onto sites only apply to designated visitors’ spaces and not lot owners’ own spaces. This remains an issue.
And before you get too excited by the prospect of raising some money through fines: council retains all fines collected.
Contributing writer: Ashley Bassa | Head of Strata & Community Management | Beaumont Strata Management