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Letter from Peter Berry

Jimmy
I have read the comments you have sent me in response to your SMH item on illegal parking in strata schemes. They certainly typify the difficulties that can arise over this issue.
As I said before, there are no easy answers to the parking issue. It has probably become worse with the trend towards higher density living and owners corporations may have to be more proactive in minimising the problem arising in the first place. I know that there are schemes which use pop-up/lock-down devices that prevent anyone other than a person holding the key to use a parking space. This is one clear option. Obviously a bit inconvenient and it involves some expense but at least it lessens the possibility that the opportunistic parker will be able to access the space in the first place. I think that this is one possibility that any scheme with continuing problems should seriously pursue.
I know you feel, as do some of those who responded to your article , that the provisions of the Strata Act allowing:
(1) notices to comply with the by-laws;
(2) mediation;
(3) applications for orders; takes too long but they do have some success in resolving problems involving residents of the scheme. I agree that the issue of outsiders squatting on common or private parking spaces is a different and more challenging problem.
One reader commented that his scheme had by-laws in place which purport to allow the owners corporation to remove any offending vehicle. I am sure such a by-law would not stand up if it was challenged as by-laws cannot be used to give the owners corporation powers that are not permitted by law. The Local Government Act 1993 (section 651b and 651C) has specific provisions dealing with the impounding of vehicles and using wheel clamps for which there are penalties of up to $2,200. This owners corporation should be very careful about any use of such a by-law.
Letting down tyres is a similarly doubtful tactic. Obviously no Government agency is going to endorse such a strategy and any person using such a method is on his/her own in the event of the owner of the car involved taking some sort of legal action against the person involved. Fair Trading would be most concerned over any licensed real estate agent advising people to use these methods.
The Inclosed Lands Protection Act suggested as an answer by some readers dates back to 1901 and deals with issues such as leaving gates open and the destruction of goats and may not be the vehicle to pursue the strata scheme parking problem.
I am sorry that other than the pop-up devices, I have no other solutions to the problem at this stage. But I am willing to hear of any other legal options that people may have for further consideration.
Peter Berry

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