'I was behind on fees I owed to my management company and they clamped my car in my apartment block. Can they penalise me like this?'
Director of Communications and Market Insight with the CCPC Aine Carroll answers your questions.
Question: My car was clamped in my apartment block by a private clamping company hired by my management company. When I complained to my management company about this, it said that it was within its rights to clamp me as I was behind in my management fees..
Unfortunately, I had an issue in paying my fees at the time my car was clamped as I was out of work. I am back working again and repaying the amount I owe. I had to pay €120 to get my car unclamped. Can the management company penalise me in this way?
Niamh, Lucan, Co Dublin
Answer: When you buy an apartment in a multi-unit development, you sign a lease contract. This contract sets out your legal responsibilities and obligations, as well as those of the Owners' Management Company (OMC - the company which legally owns the common areas in your apartment block and is responsible for their upkeep). When you sign a contract, you are legally committing to the terms of the contract. That means you cannot opt out of any of its terms and conditions. You also become a member of the OMC and have voting rights in terms of decisions on how the OMC (and your apartment block) is run.
You should find out the basis on which your car was clamped. Is it outlined in your lease that you lose access to the car park if you do not pay management fees? Or was this a house rule agreed by the members of the OMC and voted on at an AGM? Contact the directors of the OMC and find out the answers to these questions.
If you want to take the matter further, your next step is to make a complaint in writing to the OMC and ask for it to be raised at the AGM. If you are unable to resolve your issue through the OMC, and you feel that the management company had no legal basis for clamping your car, you could consider seeking legal advice.
Aine Carroll is Director of Communications and Market Insight with the CCPC (www.ccpc.ie)
Sunday Indo Business