Australians charged $6 billion for parking spaces they don't use

The unseen problem is worsening housing affordability and parking availability, researchers say.

Australians are being overcharged up to $6 billion for car spaces they don't use, worsening housing affordability and parking availability.

A new study from RMIT University has found unbundling parking from new apartments could save people who don't own cars tens of thousands of dollars and free up parking spots for those who do.

Lead researcher Chris De Gruyter says one in five households are paying for parking they don't use while 14 per cent of households do not have enough.

A single parking space can drive up the cost of a Sydney apartment by over $100,000. The problem derives from apartments being sold or leased with parking spots as part of a bundle, regardless of whether the new resident needs it.

Wasted parking spots are a crippling inefficiency in the Australian market researchers say. Source: AP
Wasted parking spots are a crippling inefficiency in the Australian market researchers say. Source: AP

"People don't get a say on how many car parking spaces they want or need. It's already allocated for them," Dr De Gruyter said.

He called on local and state governments to allow for parking to be unbundled from new apartment builds in planning policy. This would give prospective buyers or renters the ability to choose the parking right for them and more effectively allocate parking supply from those who don't need it to those who do.

Rising apartment trend sees renters choose parking needs

The growth in build-to-rent housing, in which a development is designed specifically for renting rather than sale, promises to boost the popularity of unbundled parking.

Indi Sydney, an under-construction build-to-rent development rising above a new metro station in the city's CBD, allows renters to choose their preferred amount of parking. Given its proximity to the metro, prospective renters are less likely to require a cars and can benefit from the reduced cost of not having to pay for parking.

When parking is unbundled, people tend to own less cars and use more public transport, Dr De Gruyter says. That benefits both individuals and the greater community.

apartment block in Sydney pictured
Australians are paying $6 billion for car spaces they don't use. Source: Getty

People who use public transport save money and tend to be healthier and more active. Greater public transport use results in less pollution, noise and congestion and more space available for pedestrians.

Dr De Gruyter also recommends removing minimum parking requirements for new developments or even legislating parking maximums, which have proven successful in transport-rich, walkable cities like London.

Calls to remove compulsory minimum parking requirements

Victoria's peak infrastructure body on Tuesday called on the government to reduce or remove compulsory minimum parking requirements to improve choice and affordability of new homes.

The Infrastructure Victoria report found apartments in inner-city areas typically have too much on-site parking, and an average of one in three parking spaces sit empty overnight.

Dr De Gruyter says policy change has been stalled by unfounded community fears that removing minimum parking requirements would reduce the availability of on-street parking.

But research indicates it's actually residents in detached homes who are the greatest users of street parking.

"If you speak to anyone in the transport industry they all say we should be unbundling car parking and we shouldn't have minimum parking requirements," he said.

"What we've got has been around for so many years and it's really becoming outdated."

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