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Removing illegally parked vehicles

21 June 2018

By Adrian Mueller Partner I Senior Lawyer at JS Mueller & Co

Are owners corporations powerless to remove illegally parked vehicles from visitor parking spaces? 

On 30 November 2016, the Strata Schemes Management Act 2015 (Strata Act) commenced which allows regulations to be made that confer power on an owners corporation to dispose of goods (including motor vehicles) left on common property.

Clause 34 of the Strata Schemes Management Regulation 2016 (Strata Regulation) allows an owners corporation to move or remove a motor vehicle left on common property that blocks an exit or entrance or obstructs the use of common property.

What is a motor vehicle?

A “motor vehicle” has the same meaning as in the Impounding Act 1993. The dictionary to the Impounding Act 1993 defines a “motor vehicle” within the meaning of the Road Transport Act 2013 which defines it as a vehicle that is built to be propelled by a motor. This includes a caravan, boat or other trailer (whether or not attached to such a vehicle).

Clause 34 in the Strata Regulation applies to both registered and unregistered motor vehicles.

Removal of motor vehicles

Clause 34 allows an owners corporation to move a motor vehicle, when it blocks an exit/entrance or obstructs the use of common property, to another place on the common property or to the nearest place to which it may be lawfully moved. 

This includes a lawful parking area on the nearest street kerb.
 

Procedure for removal of motor vehicles

The owners corporation is only able to move a motor vehicle if it has first placed a removal notice on or near the motor vehicle and the requirements of the notice are not complied with within the period specified in the removal notice.

The removal notice must:

not be less than the size of an A4 piece of paper

be placed in a position or of a material that could be affected by weather

describe the motor vehicle and state the date and time the notice was issued

state that the motor vehicle will be removed if it is not moved from the common property, or no longer obstructs common property before the date and time specified in the notice (being not earlier than five days after the notice was placed on or near the motor vehicle)

specify contact details for a member of the strata committee the strata managing agent or a
delegate of the owners corporation in relation to the notice.

How to remove an illegally parked vehicle

In order to move a vehicle that has been left on common property, without the consent of an owners corporation, the owners corporation should do the following:

place a removal notice on or near the motor vehicle

ensure that the removal notice meets each of the requirements specified above

wait until the period specified in the removal notice expires

once that period expires, arrange for the motor vehicle to be moved to: another place on common property; or the nearest place to which it may be lawfully moved (such as a lawful parking area on the nearest street kerb – however an unregistered vehicle cannot by law be placed on the street); or an area so that it no longer blocks an exit or entrance or otherwise obstructs the use of common property

take care to ensure that the vehicle is not damaged during or as a result of the move.

At the time a removal notice is placed on or near the motor vehicle, the owners corporation should write to the owner if known to advise them and make clear if it is not complied with, they will remove the vehicle after the expiry of the period specified in the notice.

If the procedure set out in the Strata Regulation is not followed correctly, the owners corporation may not have authority to move a vehicle from common property.

What’s the alternative? 

An owners corporation may grant a licence to any person to use common property pursuant to a special resolution passed at a general meeting. This gives an owners corporation power to grant a licence under an agreement with the Local Council for a strata parking area under section 650A of the Local Government Act 1993.

Section 650A allows an owners corporation to enter into an agreement with the council to designate an area of common property as a strata parking area which must be approved by a special resolution passed at a general meeting.

An agreement to designate an area of common property as a strata parking area will give the council the right to erect parking signage in the area and then patrol the area to ensure the parking signage is complied with. If the driver of a vehicle parked in a strata parking area parks the vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a parking sign erected by the council, the driver is guilty of an offence and liable to be penalised up to $550.
 
The council is able to erect parking notices or signage in a strata parking area that relate to any one or more of the following:

the time during which residents or visitors may use the parking area,

the maximum period for which a vehicle maybe parked in the parking area (or in any part of the parking area),

the designation of a par.