Interview: Housing and Legal expert Ameet Mehra on Mumbai's parking woes

The big question for car owners in the city today is; where to park? Expert Ameet Mehta talks about parking in residential societies and how to resolve the great parking wars

Given the paucity of parking spaces, especially in residential societies and the relative ease of buying cars, parking has become a contentious and aggro-filled issue for residents.

Illustration/Amit Bandre
Illustration/Amit Bandre

From parking two cars in one parking space to renting out car parking space to another society member, housing and legal expert, Ameet Mehta clears the air about parking, citing the rule book and says that disputes need to be sorted amicably with owners taking a practical view of things. The next wars in residential societies need not be fought over cars.

Building complexes may mark out various spots for parking
Building complexes may mark out various spots for parking

Q. Is one flat owner allowed to sell his parking to another, in case that particular owner does not own/have a car?
A. Yes. It is an internal agreement between two individuals of a society. But it is mandatory for the buyer to be member of the society.

Q. In case on flat owner owns both, a bike and a car, where is he supposed to park the bike?
A. Parking spaces shall be paved and clearly marked for different types of vehicles. Again it is important to note that society can allot parking space for two-wheelers provided space is available. We see that even with one car parking, owners are often parking two vehicles squeezing in one more, elsewhere...Societies have to take a practical approach on this issue. Though the eligibility of parking is one per parking area, many members tend to squeeze two cars in one parking. This cannot be accepted as far laws are concerned. However many societies take a practical approach. They allow this provided the second vehicle is not outside the parking area of the stipulated space of the concerned member and neither is it obstructing others. In a related sense, in case we go as per legal requirements, it is stated in Section 82 of the MOFA Act, in case the numbers of vehicles of eligible members are in excess then the available parking space/ stilts, the Managing Committee shall allot such parking space/stilts by “lot” on yearly basis.

Q. Can a housing society committee decide how many cars/restrict the number of cars, a particular flat/owner can have?
A. No. There is no such law. The society committee can only restrict parking of such cars.

Q. Some buildings may have one closed garage, or two and other parking spaces are open, so is the closed garage more expensive than open parking and who is entitled to that?
A. Closed garages are more expensive than open or stilt parkings. This is so because it has special construction rules applicable and consume special additional space with fire norms.

Q. Do you see builders creating parking space by buying up a portion in front of the building for parking space?
A. Parking space is no longer a luxury. It is a necessity. If there are projects where builders give priority to parking spaces, they can develop Public Parking Lots. For such developments, DC rules have already stipulated norms. Development of Multi storied/Parking lots: - With prior approval of Govt., for development of multi-storied/parking lots on any plot abutting the roads and/or stretches of road, additional FSI, as specified below on built up parking area, created and handed over to MCGM free of cost, shall be allowed on the land belonging to the private owners, which is not reserved for any public purposes. It is, though, subject to a number of conditions.

Q. Should a building society too explore the option of vertical parking?
A. Yes, provided such space is available and it fits the DC rules.

Q. The BMC had earlier stated that it is going to charge residents for parking cars on the roads outside buildings, etc. What are those parking charges, is this legal?
A. As of now, the proposed rule seems to be scrapped. However such charges; if levied, shall be challenged through Public Interest Litigation (PIL) for various reasons.

Q. Sometimes, buildings have commercial office space along with residential. How many cars is one office allowed to park? What is the rule when it comes to commercial spaces within buildings?
A. The rules are as per DC regulations or as otherwise passed by General Body of a Society for allotments.

Q. Sometimes, garages have a lot of stuff stored in them, from furniture, to something else from the resident’s home, What is the rule with reference to this…
A. Garages allotted for car parking cannot be used for commercial purposes except with the permission from the Bombay Municipal Corporation for “Change of Use”. Otherwise it has to be restricted for use for a limited purpose as stipulated in the norms. At the time of the construction of garages an undertaking has to be given to the Municipal Corporation that they will be used only for car parking. If the Society uses the car parking for commercial purpose it breaches under Co-operative Laws and there is also violation of the Bombay Municipal Corporation Rules. Garage allotted for car parking are exempted from the FSI Calculations. However, if there is extra FSI or the benefits of TDR are available to the said property then such garages used for car parking can be regularized for commercial activities.

Q. Is one resident allowed to rent out his car parking space to another?
A. There is no such norm under which it cannot be done. It is a private understanding between two individuals.

Q. Can a housing society's managing committee stop parking for a member because of a dispute?
A. Yes. This can be done considering the merits of the matter.

Q. What are the rules related to parking charges?
A. Under Section 84 of the MOFA Act, Every member who has allotted the stilt or the parking space shall be required to pay the parking charges at such rate as may be decided by the general body of the Society at its meeting, irrespective of the fact whether he actually parks his motor vehicle or not. The Society can recover different rates for different types of vehicles. The General body of the Society can definitely fix up the charges for the second and third car, etc. Therefore, the member will have to pay the parking charges for a particular month irrespective of the fact that he has parked the vehicle for a few days. Where a member has been allotted more than one stilt parking space, he shall pay parking charges in respect of every such stilt or parking space, as decided by the General Body Meeting.

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