Who gets first bite at the car park cherry?

Parking mad  As more people own more cars and councils restrict the number of vehicle spaces in new buildings, parking is a constant source of irritation.  But who takes priority, even in older blocks – residents with more cars than spaces to park them, or visitors to their building? 

QUESTION:  We are a 1970s block of 40-plus units and each unit has undercover parking for one vehicle. Now that many households have two cars or maybe a tradesman truck or van for their business, some residents feel strongly that their need to park their second vehicle takes priority over visitors.  However, we have residents who object to their visitors having to park on the street, and have spent much energy over the years chasing up car owners and affixing stickers or notices. This causes much bad blood.  

I feel that the most efficient use of off-street parking spaces is to allow first in, first served.  Are the executive committee members meant to be acting as police?  OC, Waverley ANSWER: Firstly, many of your neighbours would have bought apartments believing there would be visitors’ parking to share.  They are part owners of that space and they are entitled to get annoyed when someone else grabs it for their exclusive use. 

Residents who are fortunate enough to have more than one car shouldn’t expect to have it accommodated at everyone else’s collective expense, let alone loss of amenity.   What about people who have elderly relatives, friends with young children, visiting tradesmen or doctors? The ‘first come, first served’ principle is deeply flawed and often leads to selfishness and bullying.   

A more appropriate concept may be “user pays”. If you really don’t need all your visitors’ parking, then you should think about renting some spaces out to owners.  At least that way the other owners will get some benefit through payments to Owners Corporation funds. Also, your building’s planning permission probably included the provision of visitors parking, so any changes – even informal ones like turning a blind eye to  residents using the spaces – would have to go back to council.   

And to answer your final question, this is part of common property, so yes, the Executive Committee is expected to police it. 

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