Parking dispute

‘Sick of it’: Parking dispute fires up

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A Sydney woman said she spent an “eye-watering” amount buying an apartment last year and now she is dealing with a huge issue with a neighbour.

Welcome to Sisters In Law, news.com.au’s weekly column solving all of your legal problems. This week, our resident lawyers and real-life sisters Alison and Jillian Barrett from Maurice Blackburn advise on issues when it comes to apartment parking spaces

Question:

I live in a Sydney apartment block that has a car park underneath with numbered parking spaces for each unit.

We bought our apartment last year at an eye-watering expense as you can imagine! Our parking space is at the end of the row and there’s a small area to the side which isn’t an official parking space but some of our neighbours try to squeeze into it anyway.

When they do this it means we can’t drive our ute in or out! I’ve left notes on cars, complained to the strata, and even confronted one neighbour, but people still seem to do it all the time. What are my options as I’m sick of this happening? – Cindy, Sydney

Cindy even confronted one neighbour. Picture: iStock

Cindy even confronted one neighbour. Picture: iStock

Answer:

You’ve done the right thing by speaking to your neighbours when you see it happening. It doesn’t matter if the person parking there owns, rents or is a visitor – they must still comply with the by-laws of the strata scheme.

Like most states, all tenants in New South Wales have terms in their lease that mean they cannot cause a nuisance or interfere with the peace or comfort of a neighbour, and must comply with the by-laws of the strata scheme.

Usually there are rules about parking in strata schemes (most apartment blocks have a strata). As a general rule, residents can only park in their parking space and visitors can only use designated visitor spaces.

You should obtain a copy of the strata’s by-laws to ensure that there are rules about parking.

It is likely that the continued behaviour of the resident to park in the wrong place will breach by-laws of the property, which allows you to take action with the support of the Body Corporate or Owner’s Corporation.

As a general rule, residents can only park in their parking space and visitors can only use designated visitor spaces. Picture: iStock

As a general rule, residents can only park in their parking space and visitors can only use designated visitor spaces. Picture: iStock

If your apartment block has an onsite manager then you should make a complaint to them, in writing and keep a copy, providing any evidence you have about the vehicles parking in the wrong place.

If speaking to the onsite manager doesn’t rectify the parking situation, then you can write to the Body Corporate or Owner’s Corporation and ask them to take action.

The Owner’s Corporation can serve a notice on an owner or tenant to comply with the by-law being breached. If the by-law is breached after this, the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal can order a person to pay a penalty of up to $1100. If the by-law is breached again within 12 months then the penalty can double.

Speak to your onsite manager of the apartment block. Picture: iStock

Speak to your onsite manager of the apartment block. Picture: iStock

The Owner’s Corporation can use signs, parking bollards or security guards to control parking on common property, and they can take action against owners or occupiers who break any by-laws.

Some strata schemes engage their local council to provide parking management services which means the council can issue parking fines. The Owner’s Corporation is unable to issue parking fines themselves.

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If the person parking you in rents, then you can also make a complaint to their landlord or agent. Make this complaint in writing and keep a copy.

Renters also have to obey the strata rules so you can complain to their landlord or agent if they are breaching them. Picture: iStock

Renters also have to obey the strata rules so you can complain to their landlord or agent if they are breaching them. Picture: iStock

If, after the landlord warns the offending parker they are breaching the lease, they continue to park in the incorrect area then the landlord can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to stop the breach or give the tenant a termination notice.

If your strata scheme does not have a by-law about parking then you can submit a motion which will be discussed at a general meeting. An owner’s corporation can add, remove or change by-laws with a vote, provided 75 per cent or more of the voters agree.

Before submitting a motion, you should first discuss the idea with your other owners to ensure you can have enough votes for the by-laws to be changed.

You can escalate things further if the offender is renting. Picture: iStock

You can escalate things further if the offender is renting. Picture: iStock

To submit a motion, contact the strata manager or secretary of the Owner’s Corporation in writing and provide your name, the by-law change you want and the reasons for the change.

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