Being able to park cars at a property is becoming an increasingly important factor for all kinds of properties. For commercial business premises there is always a need for more staff and client parking, with leisure and social properties having to cope with the sudden influx of people visiting, and for residential, with numerous cars now associated with each household.
Ideally these are already part-and-parcel of a property’s design, but even with newer-build ones where they already accounted for they are often only to the bare minimum requirements in order to pass consents like planning permission and building regulations, whereas the reality of actual use afterwards can be a different kettle of fish.
Therefore frustrations can emerge from all angles, and tempers can in fact flare when it comes to people taking the mickey and misusing what spaces are available. It can be difficult to suddenly conjure up new spaces out of the blue or implement effective parking management procedures, never mind someone needing to pick up the bill for this afterwards.
And with this increased demand but often restricted supply, there can therefore be a good additional income stream to benefit from by being proactive and actively marketing new spaces up for grabs.
So whether you’re reacting to a situation and urgently needing more parking, or you’re wanting to look into longer-term options and values, here are a few general car parking pointers to consider. These are a broad-brush approach to the subject, to enable you to easily narrow down what then needs doing to get the ball rolling:
1. Getting the Money
On the principle that parking is valuable, make sure payments come in somewhere. If it’s through a separate agreement then it may be through a regular additional income stream, or alternatively part-and-parcel of any existing property income.
Thinking outside the box, you could even sell off such parking space longer-term for a one-off capital payment instead.
If you’re dealing with day-to-day visitors, then look into some form of paid passes or an onsite facility like pay-and-display machine.
Whatever form it takes, make sure it’s correctly valued, properly invoiced and accounted for, and any additional issues issue like VAT understood up front.
2. Clarifying the Condition
Although parking spaces don’t need to be in 5-star condition, you’ll have to consider some degree of condition for looking respectable and covering any liabilities from people tripping over and vehicles being damaged.
So whether pot holes being filled, or a whole new surface being laid, see what is most needed. You may also require line markings and signage, including non-liability ones, to help tick compliance boxes in addition to clearly showing where people can park and drive.
Make sure areas are well lit for people arriving at vehicles, and a policy for applying grit and snow clearance in winter periods to stop both vehicles and people from being harmed. Some basic litter-picking, weed control, and autumn-leaf clearance might also need to go in the diary.
3. Controlling the Use
This can be a big issue, with people either mistakenly or deliberately taking the mickey and parking where they’re not permitted to.
An easy way to nip this in the bud is a parking enforcement company, where you often only pay for initial signage as they receive their money from issuing penalty notices to unauthorised parkers. However, check that they are legit and fair companies, and establish a clear policy for knowing who’s allowed there and who isn’t.
You could get more physical and look at barriers or gate control, but this can be costly and needing detail like electricity supply and ways of communicating to property occupiers through, say, intercoms for visitors to report to.
Also, watch out for the wrong types of vehicle being parked, whether an abandoned vehicle just left, or more a commercial-van obstructing views.
Thinking outside the box as well, even if you can’t provide enough parking on site, see if there are any other local sites you could work with the owners on. Even if you’re a landlord that won’t directly benefit from your tenant having another space, helping with ways for them to then liaise with other landowners and even good public parking facilities and costs can help move any new deal along nicely.
4. Agreeing in Writing
Whatever you agree, always get in writing. Always.
Ideally through any main lease or agreement, or by separate licence, but watch out for what begin as temporary licences turning into leases with occupation rights over time.
And try to deal with these separately to any main lease demise, as often it works for all parties to have looser rights to use several spaces rather than rigid demises and liabilities being given. It’s a heck of a lot easier for one owner to maintain all spaces rather than each tenant technically maintaining their own ones.
5. Establishing Planning Permission
This can catch you out if you don’t check, particularly for areas that haven’t been used for parking before and are standalone, for example a piece of vacant land.
Check whether it falls within any existing planning permissions, and if you do get issues with the planners and parking has been carried out for a period of time already then you can consider establishing Lawful Development Certificate.
6. Checking Business Rates
Another local-authority issue that can come out the woodwork is a business rates bill one day for a parking space. This is on the basis that this is a legitimate use that derives a value for the owner, and the taxman would therefore like a slice of it.
Check whether the parking spaces have been separately assessed and charged, or form part of any existing property area already being charged. Also, watch out for any rates reductions like Small Business Rates Relief not being applied to these separate areas, and as with all other business rates see what appeals and reductions can be processed.
7. The Future is Electric
Looking to the future, electric and hybrid vehicles are becoming more popular and the reality is that they need a power source nearby to charge up the batteries.
It may seem easy to sling a cable to the car from a socket on a nearby property, but even that can cause issues like being a trip hazard and not ideal in bad weather conditions.
Ideally a new cable and power point is required for the space, and although the practical works to a property electricity source may be achievable you may have to resolve legal issues with permission from the owner of the land to agree to this and any necessary documentation.
Ideally a communal supply could work longer-term, but you’re then hit with initial costs and ways to recharge maintenance and electricity costs going forward. Not as easy as it first appears, but worth considering for longer term benefits.
This might still seem a pipe dream, but is slowly becoming more popular, and certainly within years to come will become the norm. And the fundamental need here is a power source to charge
Revving the Engines of Car-Park Provision
Therefore no matter what type of property you have, car parking is bound to affect you somewhere along the lines. In today’s car-focused world, it’s everywhere, and can cause serious frustrations and costs when not correctly provided for.
Even where you’re just a temporary tenant or occupier and any new longer-term new spaces are out of your control, these above factors can still help you see what the issues might be for the ultimate owner to address. Being armed with this can help you look at various options with them, or identify others in nearby properties.
Whatever stage you’re at, now’s the time to get the ball, or rather wheels, rolling.
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