Posted on April 13, 2016 by Anna Sinclair

New powers for councils to impound parked boats

The Impounding Act 1993 will be amended by the Impounding Amendment (Unattended Boat Trailers) Act 2015 from 1 July 2016, to give local councils and other impounding authorities greater powers to manage boat trailers parked on residential streets and to encourage the use of off-street parking.

Currently, a boat trailer can be parked for an indefinite period unless there are parking restrictions or evidence that the trailer has been abandoned. This applies whether or not the trailer is registered.

Many boat owners use street parking as a long-term parking solution, frustrating residents and raising concerns about the loss of amenity in areas.

The new system will be ‘opt in’. Councils will be required to publish in the NSW Government Gazette the areas where the new provisions  apply, which may be all or part of the council’s area.

Where the new provisions apply, councils will be able to commence the process for impounding a boat trailer if the trailer has not been moved for at least 28 days (or such other period as is specified by regulations). The trailer must be moved at least past an intersection on the same street to restart the clock.

Before a council can then impound the trailer, it will then be required to provide at least 15 days’ notice to the trailer owner under s16(4) of the Act, during which time  the boat may be moved to avoid the impounding.

Boats that have a residential parking permit will be exempt from the new provisions.

Roll-out of the new provisions

These new provisions will be rolled out in a number of stages.

A pilot program is first being run between 1 July to 30 September 2016 with three councils that have been invited to implement the new measures.

From 1 October 2016, the new measures may be implemented by remaining councils. Councils wishing to commence implementation from this date are instructed by the Office of Local Government (OLG) to apply by 31 May 2016 and “provide assurance that they have undertaken community consultation” (see the OLG Circular to Councils).

Councils that have asked for extensions of time to consult their communities will have until 1 October 2016 to notify the OLG, with enforcement commencing in their gazetted areas in early 2017.

The OLG Circular states that if councils require further information or wish to ‘opt in’ from 1 October 2016, they should contact the Policy Team, OLG, on 02 4428 4100.