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Commuters treat our development as a ‘park-and-ride’ facility. What can I do?

Can I request that our management company assign spaces to residents?

My apartment block has a lot of parking but it is not assigned and this is causing a lot of frustration. A lot of the time I can’t get a space because it’s full and I have to park on the street nearby in the evening. There are signs at the entrance to our block that say ‘residents only parking’ but I’m pretty sure it is not enforced. As we are close to train and bus routes into Dublin, I’ve noticed people coming in, parking and walking out of the estate. I also have no idea how many spaces each apartment can use. Can I request that my management company assign parking spaces or come up with a system to address this issue? What would you suggest?

From the information you provide, it sounds as though an unsatisfactory situation has been allowed to develop in your apartment development as regards parking and that the current way parking is being managed (or not managed) is not in the interests of the property owners and residents. The fact that non-residents appear to be able to park freely in your development, while you cannot find a space, is obviously unsatisfactory and could also be creating unnecessary insurance liabilities for the owners’ management company (OMC).

You mention that there is an OMC in place and perhaps they also have a managing agent. The OMC, its board (of property owners) and the agent will be central to addressing this matter.

The first task would be to get clarity as to which parking areas are privately owned by the OMC and which areas, if any, are in the public domain. In most apartment developments the common areas of the development should have been handed over by the original developer to the OMC and there will be legal maps showing their boundaries. These areas will be owned by the OMC and subject to their management with the OMC normally entitled to bring in reasonable rules and regulations to do this.

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The next task will be to ensure that it is very clear to car owners which areas are OMC private property. This may require more or updated signage. If there is one entrance/exit to the block, the OMC may also wish to look at installing a gate to help preserve parking for residents. This may be subject to planning permission and (if planning was granted) would have an upfront cost and a maintenance cost. However, it may be a good investment by the OMC, on parking management, security and safety grounds.

In order to manage the parking spaces, some kind of parking management system will be required. Many apartment developments employ a clamping company to assist on this. This is not for the purpose of making money but because there has to be a sanction for those who do not obey parking rules. This will be a matter for decision by property owners, perhaps at the next agm. If the OMC decides to use such a company, there may be an annual charge. The clamping company will install signage advising that clamping is in operation before it starts its work.

Whether it will be required to allocate specific spaces to specific owners will in part depend on how many spaces and how many apartments/cars there are. The legalities of doing so would need to be checked with the OMC solicitor. In some developments, there are more spaces than cars so there is no real need to manage this more closely.

Also, having unallocated spaces can give the OMC flexibility, for example, if it needs some spaces to install extra bike storage or EV charge points. The OMC will also need to have some spaces for legitimate visitors of residents (which may require a separate system to manage if there is a risk of it being abused, such as a text system limiting visitor parking to say two nights per week).

Rather than allocating specific spaces to apartments, an option may be to introduce parking permits. If you have a clamping/parking management company, they will be able to assist on this. A standard system is that the property owner applies each year and supplies their car registration and their car is cleared to park in the car park. It may be that the first permit for each apartment can be provided at a nominal cost but a property owner would need to pay more for a second permit.

It sounds as though “custom and practice” has built up whereby some people use parking spaces in your block as a “park-and-ride” facility to access nearby public transport options. This does not seem to be in the interests of the OMC. A gate or improved signage supported by a permit system will help to stop this over time. In the short-term, you could start by having a presence of some apartment owners (or clamping company personnel or others) at the entrance to the development over a few mornings as cars arrive to advise them politely and professionally that they can no longer park there. This could be followed up by putting notes on the cars of commuters continuing to do this. Ultimately, cars owned by non-residents that continue to park will have to be subject to clamping by the OMC.

Once the OMC puts good systems in place, it may discover it has excess car spaces that are not required by residents. In this case, the OMC might be able to sell permits to non-residents, for commuters or local businesses. This would provide an OMC income stream in relation to these surplus spaces.

Parking management is a core OMC function, and it sounds like there is scope for your OMC to improve its operations in this regard. Some simple steps as set out above could greatly improve the situation for property owners and residents.

Finbar McDonnell is a chartered property manager and a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland

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