The NSW strata laws are about to change. The expected commencement date is 1 July 2016.
One of the most talked about changes is the ability of strata and community title schemes to better manage their parking by entering into an agreement with the local Council to have Council rangers police their parking.
How does this work? And, are there other means of policing the parking?
License with Council for Strata Parking Areas & Community Parking Areas
The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (NSW) will insert a new section (section 650A) into the Local Government Act 1993 (NSW). Section 650A, when it commences, allows strata and community schemes to enter into an agreement to set aside part of its common property for a ‘strata parking area’ or ‘community parking area’ with their local Council. Any agreement or licence must be made by special resolution of the Owners Corporation, Community, Precinct or Neighbourhood Association.
Section 650A will also create the offence of parking in a strata parking area or community parking area otherwise than as permitted by a notice or sign erected by the Council. It allows a Council ranger to fine a driver of a vehicle up to $550 for parking incorrectly in a strata or community parking area.
Some of the issues that need to be considered before entering into any such agreement are:
- Does your local Council have the necessary resources to police your parking area?
- Is your local Council willing to enter into such an agreement?
- If so, on what terms? What will be the cost to the Owners Corporation? How often will the rangers patrol the parking area? Are lot owners willing to have Council parking signs put up on the common property? Do you need to provide Council will swipe passes or keys to be able to access the strata parking area?
- What areas are to be the subject of a strata or community parking area? If it includes visitors parking how will a Council ranger know which cars are genuine visitors and which are residents? Will your strata manager or building manager provide them with a list? What measures are required to keep a list current? Or, will the Owners Corporation/Community body need to restrict visitors parking to a set number of hours each day?
Before any agreement or license with Council is entered into we strongly recommend seeking legal advice. Why? Licences can be complex and it is important to ensure the lot owners understand what the licence will provide for.
Other options to better managing parking
Helpfully, the new Act provides increased penalties for breaches of by-laws. When the new Act commences penalties for breaching by-laws will be increased to a maximum of $1,100. For repeat offenders within the same calendar year, penalties could be as much as $2,200.
More importantly, the default position under the new Act is that the penalties are payable to the Owners Corporation unless NCAT orders otherwise.
Most Owners Corporations have by-laws prohibiting parking on the common property without written approval and restricting visitors parking. Enforcing these by-laws through NCAT may be preferable to having Council rangers policing your parking areas especially as it is likely that penalties would be paid to the Owners Corporation rather than to the Office of State Revenue.
Legal advice about each option and any prospective licence is strongly recommended.
Note: The Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 has not yet commenced. It is expected to commence on 1 July 2015. The insertion of a new section 650A into the Local Government Act is also expected to occur on 1 July 2015.