Using car spaces for storage in strata

There are a lot of positives to strata living, but one frequent source of friction and complaints can be storage. Residents often see an obvious solution in their dedicated garage or car space only to find out the hard way that it’s not that simple.

Many strata schemes have bylaws that specify that garages can only be used for parking vehicles. So, this is the first thing to check. If your scheme does not have any such by-laws, your garages may be classified as a utility lot in the strata plan. Utility lots are defined as a lot to be used primarily for storage or accommodation of boats, motor vehicles or goods and not for human occupation such as a residence, office, shop or the like.

If that is the case, storing your surfboards, kayaks, bikes, hobby materials, or prized collection of ceremonial masks from the Papua New Guinea highlands should be fine. But check your bylaws and ensure you find a legal alternative to park your vehicle and do not use visitor parking in violation of those bylaws.

You must also obtain strata approval before installing any fixtures in the garage, such as shelving or bike racks.

Storage of commercial goods

Suppose the space is being used for commercial purposes like stock for your online business selling those ceremonial masks. In that case, you might have a problem with the Council because that could breach the development approval for your scheme.

Shared car parks

Dedicated car spaces in a shared car park are more problematic. Simply stacking up your goods (and hoping no one decides they are free for the taking) can and often is a source of complaints from fellow owners. Standard by-laws adopted by many strata schemes specifically state that:

The owner or occupier of a lot must not, without the written consent of the owners corporation, maintain within the lot anything visible from outside the lot that, viewed from outside the lot, is not in keeping with the rest of the building.    

This is open to interpretation in the way it applies to car spaces. Many strata schemes have more detailed bylaws on car parks that would specifically prevent this kind of storage. There may also be issues raised that the goods are a fire or occupational health and safety hazard.  Many owners create extra storage by adding a lockable storage box on a stand at one end high enough for the car to park under. That is usually fine if you obtain strata committee approval for its installation, and many bylaws have specific provisions on what will and will not be permitted.

If in doubt, talk to your strata committee or Strata + manager.

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