Can you ban monster utes from your car park?

Mercedes-Benz-X-Class-Australia-3.jpg

Mercedes Benz X Class - coming to a car park near you

Have things been getting a bit squeezy in your apartment parking lots recently?  Are you one of those unfortunates who have to push your Toyota Corolla in and out between a Toyota Hilux and a Ford Ranger, because your doors won’t open far enough?

I mention those three models because the Hilux and Ranger are Australia’s two biggest selling vehicles with total sales of over 90,000 in 2018.  The nifty little Corolla came third with sales of just over 30,000.

This is not a new phenomenon.  Crew-cab 4WDs, with four doors and a utility tray, have been the best-selling vehicles on our roads for the past three years.

Add in other “monster” trucks like the Mitsubishi Triton, the Isuzu D-Max, the Nissan Navarra and even the Mercedes X Class and there would have to be a quarter of million of these huge vehicles on our roads right now.

By the way, city slicker, what do you use it for – taking your Nespresso capsules for recycling?

Anyway, what does this have to do with apartment living? The answer is, space and the lack thereof.

At 5.33 metres long, the hugely popular Hilux SR5, only just fits into the regulation minimum car space length of 5.4 m.  The longer Ford Ranger is over the edge, literally.

Now, a new block’s developer, mindful of the trends in vehicle sales, may have been generous with their parking allocations. But many will have squeezed every last square centimetre out of the available space and if you’re in an old building, the pips will be squeaking.

The long-established minimum dimensions of 2.4 metres wide and 5.4 metres long for parking spaces were based decades ago on the average sizes of cars that would have allowed enough room for doors to swing open without scratching or denting the neighbour’s paintwork.

But in the bumper to bumper battlefield of today’s strata parking, you could be making it hard on your neighbour just to get in and out of their car. And if you have anything else in your parking space, your super-ute is probably going to be across the line.

Apart from forcing others to manoeuvre round you, your oversized truck is technically on common property and you could be breached and even towed under some strata laws.

In truth, there seems to be a lot of give and take in strata on who can park what, and where.  It’s fairly common for town house residents to park their vehicles on a common property driveway while they fill their garages with all the stuff that won’t fit into their units.

There’s probably a by-law that says they can’t do that without written permission, but if everyone’s doing it, who cares (apart from the poor blighter who can’t get to their garage at the end)?

So what can you do if your parking spaces are taken over by way too many “monster” 4WDs and parking has become more of a hassle than it should be?

Theoretically, you could put a width restriction on the size of vehicles that could be driven across common property. After all, you may have a height restriction to stop vans and trucks ripping the pipework and lighting off the ceilings.

So if your monster ute fills every cubic centimetre of your parking space, and there’s a half dozen others nearby, don’t be surprised to see a new width restriction by-law proposed on the agenda of your next AGM.

This column first appeared in the Australian Financial Review.

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