With an increasing number of Australians now residing in apartment complexes, certain activities that residents used to freely carry out in freehold house, has become a contentious topic of discussion among a number of Body Corporates.
Yes, we are talking about washing and cleaning of residents vehicles within the grounds of the complex. Interestingly, some developers have allowed and accounted for this exact need with the creation of a designated washing bay when the Body Corporate was first created. The majority of developers, however, did not take this into account and the necessary resources required to accommodate them are not available. This is easily distinguished in many complexes by the lack of proper drainage, dedicated parking bay, and the availability of water; to allow for residents to properly wash their vehicles. Some buildings do not have adequate space to allow for additional parking bays for visitors or contractors due to size or very strict allocation of land during the construction phase.
This has all lead to the current question for Body Corporates, whether the Body Corporate should allow vehicle washing on-site, or should they regulate activity as a whole. There are two main vocal points to this topic, In one hand there is a legitimate concern surrounding nuisance on the common property by way of mess from the washing i.e. soap bubbles and water splashing on common grounds that may track into other areas in the complex depending on the design of the building. While on the other hand, there is push back from residents that feel their rights are being impeded by the Body Corporate to perform such a basic activity.
There are strong reasons as to why this should be discussed at the Body Corporate level. The first reason is to cost incurred from the increased water usage. Not all owners will wash their vehicle in the same frequency and periods. Some owners may require washing more than the rest, it is not possible to police the water usage. It is also a question as to how the Body Corporate should manage the increase in cost of common water usage.
Another concern for the Body Corporate would be, how to ensure that the Body Corporate is not held liable for potential issue with the council/PowerWater drainage system due to residents' excess washing water that may contain restricted chemicals. If it is found that there is an impact and cost that is sustained on the Council/PowerWater drainage, how can the Body Corporate regulate this fairly. For example disinfectant waste water is not permitted be washed down the public stormwater drainage.
Coming together to discuss this amicably would be the best option, especially if it can be tabled at a committee meeting so other members of the Body Corporate can be informed of the progress when the committee meeting minutes are distributed. If it is physically not possible to continue allowing for washing of vehicle to occur on the common property, it should at least be discussed thoroughly to ensure all parties are aware of the concerns and reasons as to why restrictions to this activity may be implemented. Or if the discussion has resulted a positive outcome, a compromise or an arrangement can be made to ensure the activity is regulated and rules are adhered to and enforced where necessary.
If you are currently experiencing the same struggle in your Body Corporate, start with reviewing the facts about your common property and see if you can request some support from your Strata Manager in getting the Body Corporate to discuss this topic.