Yes, a body corporate in Queensland has the authority to tow vehicles that are illegally parked on their property, subject to very specific conditions.
The Body Corporate and Community Management Act 1997 (Qld does regulate the use of vehicles within bodies corporate to a certain degree, but stops short of referencing the ability to tow a vehicle:
(1) The occupier of a lot must not—
(a) park a vehicle, or allow a vehicle to stand, in a regulated parking area; or
(b) without the approval of the body corporate, park a vehicle, or allow a vehicle to stand, on any other part of the common property; or
(c) permit an invitee to park a vehicle, or allow a vehicle to stand, on the common property, other than in a regulated parking area.
(2) An approval under subsection (1)(b) must state the period for which it is given.
(3) The body corporate may cancel the approval by giving 7 days written notice to the occupier.
(4) In this section—
regulated parking area means an area of scheme land designated as being available for use, by invitees of occupiers of lots included in the scheme, for parking vehicles.
Noting the above, the towing of a vehicle must be administered as a breach of By-laws and managed in conjunction with the practice directions for By-law enforcement as guided by the BCCM. Essentially, there is no clear ability for a body corporate to tow a vehicle owned by an owner/occupier parked on the common property without an adjudicator’s order.
Learn more about By-law enforcement practice directions here
Applications by the body corporate – Steps as per the practice directions for by-law enforcement
Where a body corporate has concerns that an owner or occupier has not complied with the by-laws (i.e. parking their vehicle in breach of by-laws), they may firstly consider making informal contact with the person involved to raise their concerns.
The first formal step a body corporate must take is to issue a future or continuing by-law contravention notice. A contravention notice can be issued if the body corporate reasonably believes that an owner or occupier has breached a by-law.
A contravention notice must specify in a single document:
A. That the body corporate believes the person is breaching a provision of the by-laws; and
B. The by-law provision the body corporate believes is being breached; and
C. Sufficient details to identify the contravention; and
D. That the person must not repeat the contravention, or a reasonable period in which the person must remedy the contravention; and
E. That if the person fails to comply with the notice the body corporate may, without further notice, start proceedings in the Magistrates Court or lodge a dispute resolution application.
The Commissioner’s Office provides BCCM Forms 10 and 11 which set out all the requirements for a contravention notice. The use of these forms is not mandatory but if a form is not used, the body corporate must ensure that the notice includes all five elements outlined above.
The contravention notice must name and be sent to the person who the body corporate believes is contravening the by-law. The body corporate must specifically identify the individual/s on the contravention notice. If the person contravening the by-law is an occupier, the body corporate must also provide a copy of the notice to the lot owner.
If the person breaches the by-law again following receipt of the contravention notice, the body corporate may lodge an application with the Commissioner’s Office.
The person named in the contravention notice must be named as the respondent in the application.
It is important to note that the body corporate would need to have a clear by-law setting out the rules relating to parking, and which specifies the authority to tow.
Although it is a very imperfect system, at present, the only option the body corporate has to deal with this issue is to follow the process set out in the legislation to enforce their own by-laws by issuing a contravention notice, and then seek orders from an adjudicator (a process which can take months).
Only after receiving orders from an adjudicator will a body corporate be legally allowed to tow a vehicle in breach of by-laws.
Click here to see a successful order administered by Stratacare.
What if we don’t who the owner of the vehicle is?
If the body corporate does not know the identity of the owner of the vehicle parked on their property, they can still take steps to have it towed. The process for towing a vehicle in this situation is generally as follows:
1. Conduct a search: The body corporate can conduct a search of the registration number with the Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads. This can help them to identify the owner of the vehicle.
2. Notice: If the search does not identify the owner, or if the owner cannot be contacted, the body corporate can post a notice on the vehicle stating that it will be towed if it is not moved within a specified period of time. The notice should include the registration number of the vehicle, a description of where it is parked, and contact information for the body corporate.
It’s important to note that the body corporate must make reasonable efforts to identify the owner of the vehicle before towing it. If the body corporate fails to take reasonable steps, they could be held liable for any damage or loss caused by the towing of the vehicle.
Reasonable Care and Liability Concerns
The body corporate could be held liable for damage to the vehicle if they fail to take reasonable care when towing it.
For example, if the body corporate arranges for the vehicle to be towed by an unqualified or unlicensed operator, or if they do not take proper precautions to avoid damage to the vehicle during the towing process, they could be liable for any resulting damage.
Additionally, if the body corporate tows a vehicle without following the correct legal procedures, such as giving adequate notice to the owner and waiting a reasonable period of time before towing, they could be liable for any damage to the vehicle caused by the towing process.
It’s important for the body corporate to ensure that they follow all legal requirements and take reasonable care when towing a vehicle, to avoid any potential liability for damage to the vehicle. It’s also recommended that the body corporate have appropriate insurance coverage in place to protect against any liability that may arise from the towing process.
Cost of Towing
The cost of towing a vehicle in Queensland can vary depending on a number of factors, including the distance the vehicle needs to be towed, the size and weight of the vehicle, and the time of day or night.
Generally, the cost of towing a vehicle in Queensland can range from $150 to $500 or more, depending on the circumstances. This cost typically includes the actual tow, as well as any storage fees that may apply if the vehicle is impounded.
It’s important to note that the owner of the vehicle is typically responsible for paying the cost of towing and any associated fees. If the body corporate arranges for the vehicle to be towed, they may be able to recover these costs from the owner of the vehicle, subject to any legal requirements or procedures that apply.
It’s also worth noting that the cost of towing a vehicle in Queensland is subject to regulation by the Queensland Government, which sets maximum towing fees that can be charged in certain circumstances. If you require a specific quote for towing a vehicle, it’s recommended that you contact a reputable towing service in your area for an accurate estimate.
Effects of Illegal Parking
Illegal parking on a body corporate’s property in Queensland can have several negative impacts, including:
• Safety hazards: Illegal parking can create safety hazards, particularly if vehicles are parked in areas that block emergency exits or impede the movement of emergency vehicles.
• Reduced accessibility: Illegal parking can reduce the accessibility of the property, particularly for people with disabilities or mobility issues.
• Increased maintenance costs: Illegal parking can cause damage to the property, such as to landscaping or curbing, which can increase maintenance costs.
• Loss of revenue: If illegal parking takes up spaces that are designated for residents or visitors, it can reduce the available parking spaces and potentially result in a loss of revenue for the body corporate.
• Strained relationships: Illegal parking can cause tension and conflict between residents, tenants, and visitors, particularly if it leads to disputes over parking spaces.
• Liability issues: If illegal parking creates safety hazards or results in damage to property or injury to people, the body corporate may be held liable for any resulting damages or losses.
Therefore, it’s important for the body corporate to take steps to prevent illegal parking on their property and enforce parking rules consistently and fairly. This can help to mitigate the negative impacts and create a safer and more pleasant environment for everyone.
Common strategies reduce instances of illegal parking
There are several steps a body corporate in Queensland can take to reduce instances of illegal parking on their property. Here are some common strategies:
1. Develop and enforce parking rules: The body corporate should establish clear rules for parking on the property and communicate these rules to all residents, tenants, and visitors. These rules should be enforced consistently and fairly to discourage illegal parking.
2. Install signage: Clear signage can help to communicate the body corporate’s parking rules to visitors and deter illegal parking. The signs should be prominently displayed and easy to understand.
3. Issue warnings: The body corporate can issue warnings to residents and visitors who violate the parking rules. These warnings should clearly state the consequences of continued violations, such as towing or fines.
4. Implement a permit system: The body corporate can implement a permit system that requires residents and visitors to obtain a permit to park on the property. This can help to ensure that only authorized vehicles are parked on the property and deter illegal parking.
5. Engage a parking management company: The body corporate can engage a parking management company to help manage parking on the property. These companies can provide services such as patrolling the property, issuing warnings and fines, and arranging for towing when necessary.
By implementing these strategies, the body corporate can help to reduce instances of illegal parking on their property and create a safer and more pleasant environment for residents and visitors.