The do’s and don’ts of visitor car parking

If there is one niggly issue that clogs up so many of our Strata Managers’ inboxes, it’s complaints about car parks, more specifically, visitor car parking.

On a daily basis, Strata Plan will receive emails and phone calls from owners, tenants and employees alike about people parking in the wrong car park, or supposedly hogging visitor car parks.

On a daily basis, Strata Plan will receive emails and phone calls from owners, tenants and employees alike about people parking in the wrong car park, or supposedly hogging visitor car parks.

Or your Mum finally comes to visit and the same old car is in the visitor’s car park, meaning poor old Mum has to park on the street and walk a block just to get to your place.

If you’re reading this and hoping Strata Plan is going to tell you that you’re now allowed to kick the offending vehicle, get it towed and/or send the bill to the offender, you’re going to be disappointed.

So, what is and is not allowed?

The law can be very vague on the area of car parks in Owners Corporations, and particularly with respect to visitors car parking.

In fact, the words “parking” and “vehicle” are only used once in the whole Owners Corporation Act (VIC) 2006, and that is only to say that an Owners Corporation can make rules with respect to vehicles and car parks in the building.

Below, we will run through the most common complaints, what the law says and what your Owners Corporation can do to better manage them.

BUT FIRST…A QUICK NOTE ON OWNERS CORPORATION RULES

As revealed above, the Owners Corporation Act (VIC) 2006 only mentions vehicles and parking for the purpose of stating that each Owners Corporation can make their own rules with respect to managing car parks and visitor parking.

What this means is that every building could potentially have a different rule about visitor car parks.

However, the model rules offer no guidance with respect to car parks and visitor spaces (these terms are not mentioned once), meaning every Owners Corporation has to register their own additional rules to set standards for their use and govern them.

Most Owners Corporations managed by Strata Plan will have additional rules with respect to these of visitor car parking and private car parks.

One such example of these rules are as follow:

“Vehicles on Common Property

A Proprietor or Occupier of a Lot must not;

a.  park or leave a vehicle or permit a vehicle to be parked or left on the Common Property so as to obstruct a driveway or entrance to a Lot, or in any place other than in a parking area specified by the Owners Corporation for such purpose by the Owners Corporation;

b.  permit oil leakages from any motor vehicle, trailer or motorcycle onto Common Property and must reimburse the Owners Corporation for the cost of cleaning or removing any oil stains to the garage or other part of the Common Property after due notice has been served;

c.  store any items in their car park other than a vehicle, motorcycle or trailer, unless approved by the Owners Corporation; or

d.  permit the use of those spaces allocated for visitors parking for more than 48 hours or as permitted by the Owners Corporation from time to time, without the prior written consent of the Owners Corporation or Manager.”

Of course, this is an example of an additional rule and may not apply in your building.

If you have not seen a copy of your rules, check our Customer Portal, or make an enquiry using the form below today.

So, let’s get to the complaints…

SOMEONE IS PARKING IN MY PRIVATE CAR PARK

We’ll start with what should be the simplest complaint to manage.

If a parking space is included on your title, then it is your private property. You park your car here and nowhere else.

If you have more cars than car parks – one of those will need to be parked outside.

If you have a space and no car, then you can agree to lease your space to another occupant.

NOTE:  If you would like to lease your space out, it is advisable that you have an agreement put together by a legal representative. The Owners Corporation or Strata Plan will not facilitate or sign of on such an agreement. It is a private agreement between two lot owners.

If you come home to find someone parking in your car park, report it to your Owners Corporation via Strata Plan. You may also want to report it to your local police. It is important that you document the registration of the car and whether or not this is the first time it has happened.

As this issue is a private issue to do with private property, Strata Plan and your Owners Corporation is limited in what it can do to resolve the issue.

While it is obvious that a private car park is for the owner and no one else, unfortunately, once someone has parked in your space, the process for removing them can be complicated.

Sometimes, it’s an honest mistake and once the perpetrator is aware of their error – either via a note on the car, maildrop or post on the building lobby screen, it won’t happen again.

If it’s a recurring issue, your best – and most efficient – option would be to call your local police station and try to have law enforcement sort out a resolution.

Otherwise, you may wish to make an official complaint to the Owners Corporation. NOTE: To lodge a complaint, you need to know who you are making the complaint against and the complaint has to deal with a breach of your Owners Corporation’s Rules. These should be available on your Customer Portal.

Ensure your complaint includes evidence of continued parking in the visitor spots, as well as some sort of identifying factors which point to the alleged parker. Your Owners Corporation can’t consider a complaint unless it knows who the complaint is against.

Once your complaint is received, your Owners Corporation – not Strata Plan – will decide what happens next. Either:

  • respond in writing or
  • call a dispute resolution meeting.

They can call for a dispute resolution meeting and discuss the behaviour with the alleged offender and try to resolve the issue via mediation.

If the repeat offender continues to disobey the rules, your Owners Corporation may breach them, giving them 28 days to correct their behaviour.

If nothing changes, the Owners Corporation can provide a final notice which gives the perpetrator another 28 days to rectify the issue.

If there’s still an issue, then the matter can be taken to VCAT.

This is undoubtedly an inefficient and stressful exercise, meaning prevention may prove a better way forward than cure.

WHAT CAN OUR OWNERS CORPORATION DO?

If you are experiencing ongoing pain when it comes to visitor car parking then it might be time to revisit your Owners Corporation rules.

All Owners Corporation rules must be lodged with Land Victoria and are recorded with the Plan of Subdivision for your property.

If your building already has additional rules, then you will need to lodge any new rules for them to be added to your Owners Corporation.

If your Owners Corporation is serious about creating new rules, it might want to consider hiring an expert strata lawyer to help draft the rules.

Any rules should be:

  • be for the purpose of the control, management, administration, use or enjoyment of common property or of a lot
  • not unfairly discriminate against a lot owner or occupier.
  • not conflict with or limit the Owners Corporation Act 2006, any other Act, regulation, or legal requirement.

When drafting your rules, think about any existing rules that are already in place. You may need to revoke an existing rule to make way for a new one.

You will also want to ensure your Owners Corporation has set out appropriate communication around the new rules as well as a grievance procedures to deal with any breaches of the rule and ensure the new rules are clear and not ambiguous.

Once the rules are drafted, they will need to be voted on either via a ballot or at a meeting.

The notice for the meeting or ballot must include:

  • The rules
  • The text of the resolution being considered and
  • A copy of the proposed rules.

A copy of the proposed rules.

The next stage depends on how the vote goes:

  • If at least 75 per cent of votes were in favour of the new rules, a ‘special resolution’ is passed. The special resolution is recorded in the minutes of the general meeting or committee meeting convened to consider the outcome of the postal ballot.

  • If at least 50 per cent of votes were in favour of the new rules, an interim special resolution is passed. A notice of interim special resolution and minutes of the meeting must be sent to all lot owners within 14 days of the close of the ballot.

  • The decision can only be acted on after 29 days, if no petition representing more than 25 per cent of lot entitlements has been received. If the secretary receives a petition before the deadline, the special resolution fails and the rules are not adopted.

Creating rules can be a complicated process, so make sure you lean on expert advice whenever possible. That means getting a lawyer to help ensure your new rules have a proper scope and are enforceable, and ensuring your manager is involved in the meetings or ballots.

A QUICK WORD ON TOWING

A lot of companies out there will make brave offers to tow other people’s cars for you and absorb all the risk on your behalf or on behalf of the Owners Corporation.

Strata Plan will never advise or recommend any owners or any Owners Corporation to go down that path.

Residential basement car parks can often be tight and narrow meaning other common or private property may be damaged in the event of moving the car, while the ability of a private lot owner or the Owners Corporation to remove someone’s private property is murky at best.

In our experience, these issues are usually best resolved by finding the responsible party and holding a civil discussion about the issue and looking for a compromise.

We hope this case study was insightful. We post Owners Corporation articles regularly on our socials! Follow us on our Facebook page!

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(If you don’t know your Plan Number, click here. You can also find your Plan of Subdivision Number on your fee notice)


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