Fining of illegal parking offenders key to resolve issue

In a welcome move, the Newman government has last month pushed for consistency in fining illegally parking motorists for parking in disabled carparks.

Strata communities have had ongoing issues with motorists parking in reserved car parks such as visitor car parks, allocated exclusive use car parks and disabled car parks, that has affected strata properties by disrupting and blocking ease of traffic on the private properties.

The Newman government has recently announced an increase in fines for those caught illegally parking in disabled parking spaces. From early October fines increased from $44 to $250 and it is hoped that this will act somewhat as a deterrent to those people who ignore the law and park in disabled parking spaces. Queensland police officers have the power to issue fines for vehicles illegally parked in disabled parking spaces even if the offence occurs on private property. Unfortunately, SCA (QLD)’s lobbying efforts in 2012 were answered with the reply that it is too hard to administer such a scheme in strata titled communities.

While the higher fines are a very welcome move, the issue of illegal parking on common property is yet to be resolved and would seem a long way off but there may be some light at the end of the tunnel and it may come from our cousins in NSW. Recently, in an article in the Sydney Morning Herald, readers may have been surprised to learn that the NSW government was looking at the issue as part of its comprehensive strata law review which is expected to have some effect on the Queensland Property Law Review.

Flat Chat columnist Jimmy Thomson said that, “Concerns over illegal parking in strata schemes near railway stations and office developments – and the possibility of apartment and townhouse owners taking the law into their own hands – has prompted Fair Trading NSW and local councils to investigate having parking officers allowed into strata schemes to ticket illegally parked cars.” In the article it suggested that local government parking officers might be invited to patrol parking on common property and issue fines for illegal parking especially around railway stations where the practice is becoming more and more common.

If this proves successful then SCA (QLD)’s case for doing the same hopefully will gain momentum. Around 15 months ago we called on various local councils, including Brisbane City Council to utilise its parking inspectors against drivers who park illegally on private property. We will have to see how this issue evolved and hope for a positive outcome in NSW.

On another note it is timely for everyone living in strata titled communities to check insurance policies and to prepare now for an early storm and bushfire season.

The unseasonal hot weather throughout the state is worrying as for body corporate managers any damages to strata property result in lengthy recovery and repair processes that may be avoided by looking at the fine print in contracts. By law, every body corporate has a system in place that allows its committee members to report issues and have them rectified. However, if repairs are not made in order to prevent further damage, costs may be placed on the owners and not covered by the body corporate insurance.

With the start of extreme weather leading into summer, it is best to review your insurance and make necessary repairs before and during the storm season and unpredictable summer months ahead. There have been reports last summer where repairs were not made to leaking roofs and the result has been an extensive amount of damage and roof repair bills being footed by the individual owners of the property. Unfortunately, owners are being socked with bills because repair work has not been brought to a head in the body corporate function and therefore neglected, with results that are worse than what they originally appeared to be.

Earlier this year Sunshine Coast media reported about such an incident where Betty Burton was slammed with the $4000 bill to fix her damaged, leaking ceiling in her Mooloolaba unit. Such cases of damage emerge after heavy bouts of rainfall in Queensland can result in extensive damage to property and to the hip-pocket if not dealt with immediately.

One of the most important things to note for people living in strata is to know where your property ends and where the common property starts. From time to time this can be critical in determining whose insurance is to cover damage.
Common property is an item for the body corporate to take care of and is always marked clearly in the title plans.

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