Towed away: Slack parker finds car gone

A friend in a small apartment block in Sydney recently told me a story that shows just how bad things can get when you choose to not only ignore your visitor parking by-laws, but ride (or drive) roughshod over them.

A resident in this block has two cars but only one parking spot so, it seems, she “managed” this arithmetic problem by the liberal and illegal use of visitor parking, figuring that no one was monitoring it too closely and so she could get away with it.

This proved to be the case until she took herself overseas for several months, leaving car number one in her official spot but parking the other one in a visitor slot.

Due some bona fide visitors parking in the other spots (inconsiderate b***s!) she had to use a ‘disabled’ spot.

But that was OK. She’d instructed her almost grown-up son to move the car every couple of days, so that her by-law breaching activities would remain undetected.

Except … well, my friend isn’t sure what happened but Sonny-boy never got round to it.  Or maybe he did it a couple of times and then it became too much of a chore.

Or maybe he was outraged by his mother’s lack of community spirit and/or concern for people with genuine mobility issues and decided to sabotage the effort.  Just joking.  He was slack, is the most likely reason.

Anyway, the car sat in the disabled visitor spot for days, then weeks, gathering dust not to mention dirty looks.

So the strata committee, thinking it had been abandoned, put the prescribed ‘move it or lose it’ stickers on the vehicle. These are posters defined by strata regulations, telling the owners they had five days to remove the car or it would be towed.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting.  Under section 34 of the NSW strata regulations, the owners corp can have a motor vehicle moved to another part of common property or to “the nearest place to which it may be lawfully moved”.

The tow truck company said, “OK, we’ll move it, but it has to go to our yard for safe keeping.  We are not just moving it out on to the street because it won’t be safe there. Your call.”

The regs also say, “for that purpose (moving it) the owners corporation is taken to be the owner of the motor vehicle”. So the committee said “fine – take it away.”

Now, when she comes back from holiday, the lady who thinks the word ‘visitor’ in the phrase ‘visitor parking’ means “free” is going to find her car gone and a bill for its removal and storage.

Can they do that?  The Tribunal (NCAT) can order that the owner of a car towed under this regulation pays the owners corp reasonable costs incurred in doing so.

I’m guessing the kind of person who parks for months in a disabled visitor car spot will fight tooth and nail not to pay the tow truck bills.  But there’s one thing we know for sure – one slacker son has a bit of explaining to do.

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