How to Handle Parking Issues in a Strata Building

March 14th, 2016

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The population is continuously growing; there are more cars on the road and yet there seem to be less and less parking spaces to accommodate them. More problems arise when owners are dealing with older buildings that aren’t built to accommodate cars at all, especially when owners now generally have two or more cars per unit. Larger vehicles such as four-wheel drives may not even be able to fit into the provided spaces at times.

In a strata building, the most common issues relating to parking involve parking in another resident’s spot, parking on common property, and blocking the parking spot of another resident or the entry/exit to the building’s garage.

How to deal with it cordially

When parking problems arise, it’s best to try and deal with them in a polite manner. Remember, these people are your neighbours and you’re going to see them on a daily basis. If you want them to help you out, you need to be friendly and respectful ? it’s the only way you’ll get respect from them too.

There are a number of ways you can handle parking issues:

  • If units don’t have individual garages, make sure that each unit owner knows exactly where their parking spot is. If they’re not marked, some title owners may be unsure of where their particular spot is, so it’s worth making it known to everyone in the building. Especially if some owners have parking spots and others don’t.
  • Ensure that parking spots are labelled and outlined appropriately with boundaries. While some owners think there may be a security risk of numbering the cars according to their lot numbers, it’s still beneficial to have some sort of system. Just make sure that everyone in the building is aware of what the system is.
  • If you find a resident parking on common property often, it may be best to either stop them in the hallway if you can, or leave them a polite note on their car. Remember to be cordial yet firm, and explain the reasons why you think they shouldn’t be parking on common property. For example, if they’re parking in visitor spots on a daily basis, simply explain that you have regular visitors who have not been able to park where they’re entitled. If this keeps happening and you’ve exhausted all your options, the strata scheme can then issue breach notices, fines and if required take the owner to a tribunal.
  • If people are parking in or blocking your space, it’s your responsibility to remedy the wrongdoing. Give the offending driver the benefit of the doubt. In most cases, the car has probably been parked there by mistake. Again, the best course of action is to politely explain the situation to the person parking there. If they do not stop, then it is considered trespassing and you have the right to take appropriate court action.

    But remember, while it’s your property, the car belongs to someone else, so clamping the wheels or having it towed is illegal. An owner also has the right to install a collapsible barrier on their space to prevent unauthorised use, but remember to discuss this with your body corporate first.

The regulations

Strata Acts and Regulations change from state to state, so it’s important to check the legislation regarding parking and vehicles, especially when it relates to common property.

It’s also worth reading your strata scheme’s by-laws, as these will be different from building to building. While parking problems can be annoying for you, you don’t want to be the one in the wrong, so always be up-to-date with the rules.

Generally, the rules will address the issue of parking on common property or another owner’s lot, saying that unless it’s an emergency, the owner or occupier of a lot cannot park anywhere except their designated spot if they have one. The laws will also usually state something along the lines of: when vehicles are parked on common property, they must not obstruct a driveway, pathway, entrance or exit.

There also may be some time limits enforced for vehicles to park on common property.

Talking to your owners’ corporation

If discussing the issue with the relevant person does not work, you should always talk to your owners’ corporation first. Even if they turn around and say it’s up to you to fix the problem, at least you have brought the issue to their attention.

In Victoria, there are three steps that body corporates can take:

  • Internal dispute resolution – The executive committee or strata manager acts as an intermediary between the two parties.
  • If that fails, the dispute can be taken to Consumer Affairs Victoria.
  • Failing that, the owner can take the complaint to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

The South Australian Government advises that the first step should always be to talk to your owners corporation. In most cases, the dispute can be resolved with community mediation. However, if the problem cannot be resolved, an owner can submit a minor civil action application to the Magistrates Courts.