Parking Mad

Flatchat has been in touch with the Office of fair Trading this week, following up some of the suggestions made and questions asked by readers late last year in our New Laws contest.

The first cab off the rank was illegal parking and what to do about it, given that the law seems to favour the rogue parkers and that some drivers in Sydney will do anything, including faking a disability, to get a free car park.

Just this week we’ve had yet more emails from frustrated strata dwellers. One lives in a building where residents and their non-resident friends park in visitors’ spaces – meaning genuine visitors and visiting tradespeople can’t.

The other Flatchatter complained that visitors, no doubt encouraged by other owners, often park in their parking space, even though it’s clearly marked as private. Now, our question to the FTO about parking was met with the standard response that you can issue offenders with breach notices.

Well, true – if they happen to live in your building and you can find out who they are. But if they have no connection with the building you’re stuffed.

For a start, the geniuses who run this State can’t tell the difference between legitimate home owners and bikie gangs running tow truck scams, so you can’t have the offending vehicles towed.

Clamping is also an issue although that’s less clear cut. The perceived wisdom is that you might be liable for damage to the car caused during clamping and you certainly can’t charge a fine for releasing the clamp.

But I’m told the most effective strategy is to post signs saying that illegally parked vehicles will be clamped and any damage is at the car owner’s own risk. Then you clamp the car and when the angry rogue parker wants it released, it’s a case of: “we’ll get on to that right away, just as soon as we can find the guy with the key … who’s at lunch …”

You get the picture – make it the rogue parkers’ problem and they’ll soon get the message.

Meanwhile, if you have any suggestions about effective and workable ways this problem could be solved, Peter Berry, Senior Policy Adviser at the OFT, says he’ll look at them seriously. Can’t say fairer than that – send them in and I’ll pass them on.

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