Parking thieves: some strategies | Parking Peeves | Flat Chat Forum: Your Questions Answered
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Illegal parking by outsiders in strata blocks is a perennial problem. While strata residents – owners and tenants – can be fined or, according to some lawyers, clamped or towed if there is an appropriate by-law in place, outsiders are pretty much free from any immediate or realistic sanctions.
You can’t clamp or tow cars parked illegally on private property in most Australian states (without police approval) and you can’t fine people who don’t come under your by-laws.
In some areas, local councils do have the power to send parking officers into strata schemes at the invitation of Owners Corporations (Bodies Corporate) but most are reluctant to so as it’s hard to prove that a car is an ‘illegal’ and they don’t want to get involved in internal squabbles.
So what can the frustrated Owners Corp or individual resident do? Here are some possible do’s and definite don’ts for dealing with rogue parking.
Let the air out of the tyres.
FOR: A momentary sense of satisfaction and revenge
AGAINST: This is malicious damage and a driver could take off without realising their tyre is flat and lose control of the vehicle in traffic injuring themselves and innocent road users. Do you really want that on your conscience … or criminal record.
Put up signs warning illegally parked cars will be clamped and/or towed then get a volunteer to have their wheel clamped to show the threat is real.
FOR: It works ... there’s a warning sign and a clamped car. We know one building where this cleared out illegal parkers and they only have to refresh parking thieves’ memories every six months or so.
AGAINST: It’s a lie. The signs are not true, the clamped car is a stooge and savvy parking thieves know clamping is against the law.
Put up signs warning owners that illegally parked cars have been vandalised by angry residents .
FOR: It works. The niggling fear that while they are working, shopping or partying, an angry strata resident is using a 50 cent coin to carve something rude into their duco may be enough to deter the parking thief.
AGAINST: It isn’t exactly a welcome sign for potential purchasers or tenants in a block. They can see right away that you either have a problem with rogue parkers or angry residents or both.
Block the car in with another car or a pallet of bricks.
FOR: It’s immensely satisfying
AGAINST: The blocking car might get damaged (hence the pallet of bricks). Oh, and it’s illegal – ‘detaining’ a car is the same as clamping.
Sticker the windscreen
FOR: It’s annoying for the parking thief, especially if you can source a ‘shreddable’ sticker that will come off but only in strips. If it also has a space where you can write their rego, it lets them know that you’ve literally got their number.
AGAINST: There’s the slight possibility of being charged with criminal damage. The answer- don’t overdo the stickers or the glue and you should be OK.
The strata law reform currently underway will allow for local council parking officers to enter strata car parks and fine people parked illegally there. The nuts and bolts of this have to be worked out but at the very least there will have to be signs warning people that parking officers patrol the building and that they will issue parking infringement notices on cars that are illegally parked. The deterrent factor will have an effect in itself especially as the proposed maximum fine is $550.
Given that there are two laws that have to be changed - the strata Act and the Local Government Act - plus the specific requirements of each individual council, this is a complex process just to get the laws on the statute books.
So this is not likely to result in the sudden appearance of "grey ghosts" in strata car parks all over NSW. However, smart councils will see this as a revenue earner and smart parking officers will see strata car parks as an good plan B for rainy or very hot days.
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