A friend got a bike over Christmas. Nothing fancy – just a second-hand 12-speed rattler with sit-up handlebars and a basket on the front.
When she approached her building manager for access to their bike store, she was told it was full (which it was). Not that she was living in a bike crazy apartment block. Far from it. Most of the bikes in the locked cage had gathered more dust than a politician’s code of ethics.
This wasn’t a bike park – it was a bicycle dump. No one knew who most of the bikes belonged to, how long they’d been there or if their owners even still lived in the building. So my friend has to park her bike in her lounge room.
The problem for all of us is that there is no legal mechanism for getting rid of bikes left to rust on common property by owners and tenants who are long gone.
It’s a quirk in strata law that’s about to be fixed, bringing it into line with tenancy laws. Under the Residential Tenancy Act, a landlord can give departed tenants two weeks’ notice that they are planning to dispose of any property left behind.
If it’s unclaimed and the landlord sells it, the tenant can ask for the proceeds of the sale, minus any costs, such as advertising. By the way, there are different regulations for documents and personal papers.
Owners corporations don’t yet have these smart and pragmatic options for goods left on common property, but some act ‘informally’ by holding an audit to establish who owns which set of wheels.
Residents get several warnings and a month to claim their bikes. Any that are unclaimed after that are usually given to bike charities, some of which send them to remote communities, others to third world countries and there’s even one that coverts them into low-cost wheelchairs.
One bonus of this scheme is that there is no financial transaction for former Tour De France fantasists to claim against, making everything a lot simpler.
Until the new strata regulations come in, supposedly in July, this is probably illegal – but, as we often say, there are no Stratakops roaming around looking for unit blocks that have gone rogue.
You can find a list of charities that will happily take your abandoned bikes here on Title Magazine online or just Google ‘bike charity’. The Givenow bike charity links are little out of date. Here is a link to a more up-to-date list.