No free parking! What can you do if residents keep parking in visitor car spaces
“You can’t park here, it’s visitor parking only”
It’s a comment that rings out regularly throughout strata schemes, sometimes in the form of a note on the windscreen. But owners corporations are rarely aware of their power to prevent residents from parking in visitor car spaces. This parking issue will only become more widespread as the number of large strata schemes increase, as visitor car spaces are often required as part of an application to develop and construct a new residential strata scheme.
Who can use visitor car parking? What’s a visitor?
Owners and occupiers can only park in their allocated spaces – they are not entitled to use visitor parking. The parking is only available to “bona fide” visitors, which is someone who is visiting an owner or occupier. In situations where the line between visitor and occupier is blurred, it may depend on the particular by-law or situation including:
- whether the individual has a property elsewhere,
- has their mail sent to the strata scheme,
- has moved in any furniture/belongings,
- or makes a contribution to the rent.
What are the rules?
There is no government legislation specifically regulating the usage of visitor parking, so the relevant rules are governed by the owners corporation and exist by way of a by-law. The standard by-law states that:
“An owner or occupier of a lot must not park or stand any motor or other vehicle on common property except with the written approval of the owners corporation.”
This prohibits owners and occupiers from using visitor parking unless they have permission from the owners corporation.
Some by-laws can be more prescriptive and restrictive, for example, applying time limits and length of stay restrictions to the use of visitor parking. It will depend on the particular strata scheme as to whether such a by-law is appropriate, however, and it will still be up to the owners corporation to monitor compliance with the by-law.
What can an owners corporation do if a resident is breaking the rules and using visitor parking?
If an owner or occupier has breached the by-law relating to visitor parking, then the owners corporation can serve the owner or occupier with a notice to comply with the by-law. If the owner or occupier continues to breach the by-law after this, the owners corporation can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (“NCAT”) for an order that the offender pay a penalty up to $1,100 (which can double to $2,200 if the by-law is breached again within 12 months).
Parking Rangers from Local Council
It is not particularly practical, time-efficient or cost-efficient for the owners corporation to make an application to NCAT each time an owner or occupier parks in visitor parking. Therefore, the owners corporation may wish to engage their local council to provide parking management services. For a fee, council rangers can attend the strata scheme and issue parking infringement notices as if it was any other public street. Any challenges to such fines must be directed to the council or Local Court – removing the need for the owners corporation to be involved at any stage.
The parking management services are permitted by section 650A of the Local Government Act 1993 and are arranged through a Strata/Community Parking Area Agreement. This will require an application to the council (with evidence of a majority vote of the Strata Committee) and once approved by council, a by-law passed by the owners corporation authorising the Strata/Community Parking Area Agreement.
Vigilante owners corporations
There have been cases of owners and occupiers taking matters into their own hands and “parking in”, clamping, towing and issuing “administration fees” for owners or occupiers that park in visitor parking. However, owners, occupiers and owners corporations do not have the power to take such steps to enforce by-laws themselves and are unable to pass a by-law imposing fines or penalties.
This is also very dangerous territory as the owners corporation and/or individuals will be liable for any damage that they cause to the motor vehicle in those circumstances. Practically speaking, it is also very unlikely that any tow truck or clamping company will attend a strata scheme without the owner of the motor vehicle’s authority and/or any proper legal direction.
If you have any questions or concerns about this article, or require assistance with understanding your strata rights, please do not hesitate to contact Marcus Carbone or Bailey Neate from Southern Waters Legal on 9523 5535. We are here to assist you with all your strata enquiries.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is provided as general information only. It is not intended to be legal advice and it should not be used or relied on as legal or professional advice.