New Rules For Unattended Vehicles

This boat has been sitting at Soldiers Point on public land for so long that residents are now mowing under it in an effort to keep the park presentable.

NEW laws have been introduced which may cause boat, caravan and trailer owners to see red.

In the changes trailers, boats and caravans parked on public spaces can be moved on, and if the owner fails to move it they could be facing a hefty fine.

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The Impounding Act of 1993 has been replaced by the Public Spaces Unattended Property (PSUP) Act 2021.

This allows Councils and Public Land Authorities to notify the owner of an unattended vehicle, including registered vehicles which are registered and left unattended in the same place for more than 28 days.

If the vehicle is a safety risk or causes an obstruction it must be removed immediately.

For unregistered vehicles, or vehicles that are registered and unable to be driven, it is three days.

If the owner fails to comply the authorities can either move the vehicle, take possession of the area and move it to storage and issue a fine.

For those leaving vehicles unattended fines of $660 apply, and higher court-imposed penalties may apply.

The Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Act 2021 places more responsibility on individuals and businesses to better manage their property within reasonable timeframes or face much stronger penalties.

Minister for Local Government Wendy Tuckerman has welcomed the new powers.

“Unattended property such as abandoned shopping trolleys is a big issue for councils, costing local government $17 million a year to deal with.

“The new rules put the onus back on owners where it belongs,” Mrs Tuckerman said.

“These new laws will not only save councils time and money, they’ll also ensure public spaces are safer, more accessible, and more enjoyable for our communities.

“There will be a six-month grace period where warnings will be issued for unattended property in most cases, rather than fines.

“We’ve also listened to retailer concerns and introduced more flexibility around requirements to collect abandoned trolleys notified after-hours,” she said.

The PSUP Act includes special powers for authorities to deal with stock animals wandering on public roads and causing a risk to safety, which was widely welcomed by councils during consultation.

These provisions will commence at a later date.

The rules also apply to boat trailers, unregistered cars, trailers and caravans, share bikes, and personal watercraft.

Roz Armstrong is President of the Soldiers Point Community Group, she told News Of The Area, “We welcome legislation that will stop owners leaving their boats, trailers and caravans on our streets and reserves from one summer to the next.

“Nothing annoys me more than people treating public areas as private parking spots.

“They prevent Council workers doing their jobs properly and as the grass grows up around them they eventually become neighbourhood eyesores.

“I know of a boat that has been parked on the grass verge at Soldiers Point for over twelve months.

“Residents are doing their best to mow around it – in Lismore they would have floated away,” she said
Port Stephens Council Rangers have advised for the purposes of the Act, if you were asked to move a registered roadworthy vehicle because it had been left unattended for too long, a lap around the block would satisfy this requirement.

However, if leaving the item unattended was to become a regular occurrence, a notice may be given to the owner or responsible person to ensure the item does not become unattended again.

If the item was found to be unattended after the time indicated in the notice a penalty may be issued.

If it were an unregistered vehicle it would have to be removed from the public space and placed back onto private property.

Council said it does not have the intention to make owners of registered vehicles that have parked them responsibly, move them, just because it has the power to.


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