Space to park and let?

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The extension of the scrappage scheme has still not persuaded me to part company with my old Audi even though it isn’t the most fuel-efficient car. A pragmatist would use the resources that we have as efficiently as possible, without the need to spend and build more that would increase carbon emissions if you include energy inputs in the production process. The same perspective could be viewed with car parking; park and ride rids ecosystems and the infrastructure required for congestion charging is expensive. We can use what we have already which forms the brilliance of Parklet’s car parking letting business.

The UK government continues its relentless quest to increase the financial burdens linked with car ownership, for example within the Transport Act 2000, with a workplace parking levy to manage traffic within a geographical boundary. The details of the scheme has been developed in conjunction with the Department of Transport and is proposed that this will apply to the entire Nottingham city area. An initial annual charge of £185 per annum per liable workplace parking place is intended (assuming the scheme starts in 2010) with levies increased incrementally and by inflation on an annual basis until 2015. Charges aside, there is always the possibility of not being able to find that parking space or to return to find your car dented, damaged or broken-into, not to mention the insecurity of walking towards your car on a darkening winter’s afternoon.

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Manchester’s rejuvination as a major UK city has attracted an increasing number of city dwellers such as Stephen Oliver, with numerous warehouse conversions into apartments with parking spaces. Several years ago, Stephen purchased an apartment at Ducie Wharf in Manchester city centre and decided to spend an extra £20,000 on a car parking space. Some time later, he went travelling around Australia and found a tenant to rent the apartment and parking space together. However on his return, Stephen decided not to move back in but to rent out the property and the space separately to maximise his income. He explained; “at the time, £20,000 for a space was a huge amount of money but is now earning me way more than I would get in the bank plus it doesn’t depreciate and needs no maintenance.”

He currently earns £110 per month from the space (minus Park Let’s 15% commission with a one-off administration fee of £25), which is almost average for Manchester (£109). Spaces in specific areas can command a higher rental income such as Worsley Street in Castlefield (M15) which rents out for £150 per month. Even the cheapest spaces currently available are around £50-£60 which is a nice little earner over the course of a year provided the owner doesn’t use it at all. It’s not just city centre spaces that are needed; driveways close to colleges, schools, motorway networks or rail stations are all in big demand. Luke Kelly, managing director of Park Let said; “Despite Manchester being third position in our 2009 league table of the most lucrative areas to rent out a parking space, we organise a higher volume of contracts here than other cities which may mean that landlords can find tenants more quickly in this area.”

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Furthermore, the ongoing extension of Manchester’s Metrolink tram system is going to double in size to include four new lines. This will provide much-welcomed income for those dormant spaces around new stations which will also reduce congestion in the city centre. To see whether I could find cheaper parking in the city, I selected three different postcodes. Assuming I worked there, this rendered parking meters impractical, moreso at £3.30 for three hours maximum.

Beginning with the core that is postcode M1, I found charges of between £100 and £171 per month (£5.70 per day for 30 days) in car parks on Ducie and Dale Street respectively, on cleared land without any security nor any guarantee of getting a space in the morning. Leaving the boundary of M1 revealed an extortionate charge of £20 per day (£600 per month) for one multi-storey car park in M3. My brother parks on open land off Oldham Road in the M4 area and pays £3.50 per day (£105 per month) to one dubious character nicknamed “Shaky Dave” who issues the occasional receipt…

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There appears to be a massive range in parking rates from my observations, dependant not only on postcode, but on the quality of the car park. Park Let’s search tool http://www.parklet.co.uk/searchspacesbymap.aspx allows you to input postcodes or cities to look for available spaces or garages to buy or rent, which offers rental fees of between £100 to £120 per month for all three postcodes researched, cheaper in two cases than fees seen in the city.

If you’re considering letting your space, contracts are designed to protect the landlord although check whether you are allowed to do this if the property is rented. Tenants who are renting the space waive liability for damage which should be rare as the vehicle is off the road. So, if you’re travelling to the same place of work, you will be reassured to know that you have a space if you do it the Park Let way, a more environmentally-friendly business than the wasteful and ill-considered scrappage scheme.

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Words are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou with exceptions of quotations from Stephen Oliver and Luke Kelly.

Research was undertaken by Sotiris Vassiliou in Manchester city centre in September 2009

The Park Let logo and search tool are copyright and courtesy of Park Let.

Other images are copyright of Sotiris Vassiliou

October 2009