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Workers parking in visitor spots
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Ziggy
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12/07/2018 - 11:25 am
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I live in a residential/commercial blocks of units. For some time now, people who work in the commercial units are parking in the visitors’ spots most days of the week and week after week. Is this legal? 

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JimmyT
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12/07/2018 - 5:04 pm
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No, it’s not legal – they are not visitors.

Get your committee or strata manager to start issuing Notices to Comply to the commercial operators (you might have to establish which cars belong to which workers first).

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Ziggy
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12/07/2018 - 5:22 pm
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Thanks Jimmy. The SC put a notice on a door but that was ripped off within 24 hours. I asked for more notices and got none. I wrote a sign to place under windscreens, using the SC’s words, and was told off.

in the meantime, one of the people who parks here illegally, swore at me today when I pointed out that he couldn’t park in the visiter’s spots. It’s scary stuff!

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JimmyT
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12/07/2018 - 6:11 pm
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I’ve heard of worse – like tradies who fill their garages with their gear and leave notes on the windscreens of legitimate visitors, threatening terrible consequences if they park in THEIR visitor space again.

Write to the committee asking them what their plan is in terms of Notices to Comply and orders at NCAT. 

Notices on doors and cars are just an irritation, NTCs and Orders carry the prospects of fines which, because they are paid back to the Owners Corp are worth pursuing. 

If the SC say they’re doing nothing or just don’t respond within two months, you can start pursuing them under Section 232(2).

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Ziggy
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13/07/2018 - 12:38 pm
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Thanks Jimmy. I got another email from the SC saying I’m the only one who complains. Not so, as a previous owner used to break the windscreen wipers of offending cars. Plus, the SC didn’t live here and, as I’m retired, my guests/tradies come during the day.

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Ziggy
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15/07/2018 - 8:20 pm
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Hi Jimmy, my SC are now wanting me to prove why the people who work in the building are parked illegally. I’ve said that if they that not visitors they are not parking legally. What more can I say? They are just refusing to do anything about it. This has  gone beyond common sense and the duties of the SC.

I emailed the SC saying that if nothing is done I will put a shortened version of the SC newsletter, which tells people not to park illegally, under the windscreens of the offenders. They say I can’t do that. Is that true?

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JimmyT
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17/07/2018 - 3:37 pm
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Ziggy said
I emailed the SC saying that if nothing is done I will put a shortened version of the SC newsletter, which tells people not to park illegally, under the windscreens of the offenders. They say I can’t do that. Is that true?  

Aaaah, the old 1376 “Thou shalt not touch another person’s windscreen wiper” law.

No, it’s not true. But it’s probably not the best tactic either. 

Apply to Fair Trading for a mediation with the strata committee and the business owners (who will probably not turn up) then escalate that to an action at NCAT, under Section 232 (2) of the Act, requiring the Owners Corporation to enforce their by-laws related to visitor parking.

Or just tell them that’s what you’re going to do and see how they respond.

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Boronia
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17/07/2018 - 9:30 pm
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Is there any official definition of a “visitor”? In the absence of any limitations in the By-laws, are there any other implied restrictions on how often/how long non-residents can park in these spaces? What would distinguish these workers to not be “visitors”.

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Sir Humphrey
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18/07/2018 - 9:06 am
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If others assert that it is OK to park in the visitor spaces, perhaps you could start parking there. Any time you anticipate a visitor, you can move your car back to its allocated space just in time for the visitor to arrive. If someone complains, well…

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JimmyT
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18/07/2018 - 11:03 am
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Boronia said
Is there any official definition of a “visitor”? In the absence of any limitations in the By-laws, are there any other implied restrictions on how often/how long non-residents can park in these spaces? What would distinguish these workers to not be “visitors”.  

This is an excellent point.  The first thing I usually advise OCs to do when they have visitor parking problems is to pass a by-law defining what visitor parking is. 

No longer than two hours during the day, and overnight only after 7pm and before 8am is a reasonable restriction, with an allowance for longer periods in special circumstances, provided permission has been given in writing (including emails).

In this case, however, the strata committee seems reluctant to do anything so they may still need a nudge in the form of a threat to take the matter further.

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Boronia
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18/07/2018 - 10:01 pm
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But by-laws can’t be readily enforced on “visitors”?

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JimmyT
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19/07/2018 - 9:40 am
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Boronia said
But by-laws can’t be readily enforced on “visitors”?  

Yes they can, indirectly.  Residents are responsible for ensuring that their visitors behave according to the by-laws of the building.  So, in this case, you go after the commercial unit tenants or owners and force them to stop their employees from using the visitor parking spots.

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excathedra
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19/07/2018 - 11:12 am
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With respect, I think that JimmyT is being unduly restrictive with his criteria for permissible lengths of stay for visitors.  In my submission at the time the NSW Act was being revised, I identified how long is a reasonable time for a visiting car to occupy a designated visitor parking space as an area of uncertainty. Casual guests (e g for a meal) or visiting tradesmen typically stay for a few hours. I think it is reasonable for overnight guests to use the visitors’ area within hotel checkin and checkout times (broadly interpreted), but when does a visitor become a short-term resident — after a second night, or longer? Those responsible for upholding the availability of visitor parking spaces for legitimate users are still waiting for guidance.

Our building is purely residential, and I do sympathise with Ziggy’s situation, sharing the site with a commercial operation.  We share parts of our site with another residential block whose visitor areas are not as convenient as ours.  Occasional abuse of our area by their residents tends to stop once we have identified the offenders and put notes on their windscreens — the embarrassment of being ‘busted’ seems to be quite a deterrent.

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JimmyT
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19/07/2018 - 8:04 pm
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excathedra said
With respect, I think that JimmyT is being unduly restrictive with his criteria for permissible lengths of stay for visitors.  

I should have made it clear that those hours were just an example.  Every owners corporation would set the limits to suit their own circumstances and preference.  I should have put an ‘e.g.’ at the start of the sentence.

That’s one of the beauties of being able to pass your own by-laws … what works for you is more important than arbitrary rules set by bureaucrats who may have never lived in strata.

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Ziggy
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03/08/2018 - 5:04 pm
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At a recent meeting, the SC point blank refused to do anything about the illegal parking. Where to next?

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JimmyT
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03/08/2018 - 5:39 pm
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I recall a chat I had with the former Fair Trading minister Victor Dominello who told me that Section 232 (2) of the Act was designed in part with a view to making lazy and neglectful strata committees fulfil their responsibilities.

You are lucky that the committee has decided to do nothing as that makes your next step very clear.

First download this form and use it to apply for mediation at Fair Trading, which is compulsory but free. If and when the strata committee either doesn’t turn up or refuses to do anything or delays taking action, you can then apply for orders under Section 232.2 (below) using this form.

It may be that when they see you are serious, they might do something about it.  Or they might say they are going to do something but never get round to it … in which case you have taken the initial step required before you can go to the Tribunal.

232   Orders to settle disputes or rectify complaints

(1) Orders relating to complaints and disputes

The Tribunal may, on application by an interested person, original owner or building manager, make an order to settle a complaint or dispute about any of the following:

(e)  an exercise of, or failure to exercise, a function conferred or imposed by or under this Act or the by-laws of a strata scheme,

(2) Failure to exercise a function

For the purposes of this section, an owners corporation, strata committee or building management committee is taken not to have exercised a function if:

(a)  it decides not to exercise the function, or

(b)  application is made to it to exercise the function and it fails for 2 months after the making of the application to exercise the function in accordance with the application or to inform the applicant that it has decided not to exercise the function in accordance with the application.

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N860CR
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17/09/2018 - 1:25 am
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You don’t live in my building by any chance do you? 🙂

We’ve had this issue for years. The commercial lots (that make up less than 10% of the total lots) would fill the visitor carpark daily with staff cars. When the carpark was full, they’d just double park across the residents garages (and then abuse the residents for asking them to move).

Finally a good committee comes in and tries to get it under control, but then the commercial tenants feel they are “victims” and start a crusade against the committee. Committee takes the commercial lots to NCAT, the commercial lots decide to stop parking the day before the hearing and “promise” the tribunal that they’ll stop. No fine is given, the day after, the cars are back again.

The committee gives up (who has time for being abused, just as you’ve alluded to) so the shop owners get elected to the committee, and run around putting up signs in the visitor carpark to allocate spaces to themselves. Of course, the only way to deal with it is for owners to waste days of their time going through the NCAT process.

God help a committee member if they put their car in the carpark to unload groceries for 2 minutes…. the commercial lots are running out within about 2 seconds to snap iphone photos.

 

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible for residential and commercial lots to work together when it comes to this sort of thing. The weak resolution process doesn’t help either. I don’t envy you, and I feel lucky that I am in a position to move out and settle into a freestanding property.

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Sir Humphrey
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17/09/2018 - 8:51 am
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N860CR said
… Committee takes the commercial lots to NCAT, the commercial lots decide to stop parking the day before the hearing and “promise” the tribunal that they’ll stop. No fine is given, the day after, the cars are back again.

The committee gives up …

Was the “promise” verbal and not recorded or was it recorded as a ‘consent order’?  In the ACT equivalent, ACAT, if you go to the Tribunal and the parties come to some agreement and they make commitments to do or not do various things, those things are then recorded as ‘consent orders’. They are then legally binding, not just a promise that can be forgotten the next day. Having a Tribunal order enforced is another hoop to jump through but the courts do not look favourably on people who disregard Tribunal orders. 

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N860CR
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18/09/2018 - 12:24 am
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The tribunal just wrote in their ruling that one reason they elected not to impose a penalty was because the tenants in question had “stopped and said they would now comply with the by-law”.

 

The only avenue open to us was to start the process over again with another day at the tribunal (at our cost, of course)

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JimmyT
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18/09/2018 - 8:28 am
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N860CR said
The only avenue open to us was to start the process over again with another day at the tribunal (at our cost, of course)

Or you tell the commercial owners that you will go to NCAT, forcing them to take down the signs.  And you willl seek orders at NCAT to have them removed from the committee.

Trust me, NCAT Members will not look kindly on being led up the garden path like that.  The commercial owners contempt for the process will come back to bit them on the bum.

But then, of course, you have to be prepared to do it.

It’s not easy but bullies depend on good people giving up This would be a prime example of when a strata consultant who could come in, spell out the law and lay out the consequences would be very useful.

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