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Boat Trailers


On 1 July 2016, the Impounding Act 1993 was amended by the Impounding Amendment (Unattended Boat Trailers) Act 2015 to allow councils and impounding authorities to ‘opt in’ to take impounding action against boat trailers parked for more than 28 days.

This change is to enable councils to improve the management of boat trailer parking on residential streets and encourage the use of off-street storage.

In any area where the provisions are applied, boat trailers must move at least every 28 days at least as far as a different block section of the same street.

Council must provide notice of at least 15 days before impounding a trailer.

The new measures will not apply to boat trailers where a residential parking permit has been issued by council and is displayed on the boat trailer.

This complements changes to give councils discretion to issue resident parking permits for boat trailers under Roads and Maritime Services Guidelines, and the power to issue penalty notices for unregistered vehicles.

The Minister for Roads, Maritime and Freight, the Hon Duncan Gay MLC, has set aside around $5 million as part of the NSW Boating Now program to help deliver new boat trailer parking solutions. 

Further information on applying for the Boat Trailer Storage Grants Program, including application forms and assessment criteria, is available at:


Phased roll out of the new powers

Phase 1: From July 2016, three council areas where unattended boat trailers are of concern have participated in a program to pilot the new measures, to ensure that the effectiveness of the initial implementation is thoroughly assessed. These councils are:


Phase 2: From 1 October 2016, additional councils that have appropriately consulted with their communities may commence implementation of the measures in nominated areas.  At present the three additional councils are:

1.            Mosman City Council
2.            North Sydney Council
3.            Hornsby Shire Council


Phase 3:  Councils requiring additional time for community consultation may begin between October 2016 and into 2017. This currently includes:

  1. Ku-ring-gai Municipal Council – Commenced 1 February 2017.
  2. Sutherland Shire Council – Commenced 1 February 2017
  3. Willoughby City Council – Commenced 26 May 2017.
  4. Lane Cove Municipal Council – Commenced 1 September 2017

Details about the council areas where the powers apply can be found here.


Enforcement principles for pilot councils

The Office of Local Government will work with pilot councils to ensure that a consistent and even handed approach to enforcement is taken through the pilot period.

While not limiting the discretion of impounding officers when enforcing the legislation, the following principles should guide enforcement action taken during the pilot period:

  • Enforcement action should be prioritised in the case of boat trailers that:
    • pose a specific amenity, safety or visual pollution issue; or
    • are a source of legitimate complaint from residents (either before or after the commencement of the pilot).
  • When undertaking enforcement action involving the potential impounding of a boat that is attached to a boat trailer, pilot councils will take into consideration:
    • That the owner of the vessel may differ to the owner of the boat trailer, and make appropriate efforts to identify the owner of both the trailer and the vessel before impounding action is taken; and
    • the need for the appropriate handling and care of the boat by impounding officers or their contracted impounding agents.
  • Pilot councils will appropriately communicate their powers to boat owners and residents throughout the pilot period (e.g. through the distribution of communications material produced by the Office of Local Government, and through other measures such as temporary signage in high boat trailer usage areas).
  • As the pilot process commences in the non-boating season, pilot councils will take into consideration the potential impact this may have on the ability of boat trailer/boat owners to be informed of impending enforcement action and take appropriate measures to address this (e.g. by making exhaustive efforts to contact the owner of the trailer and/or boat in question, and by placing notice of intention to impound stickers on a vessel as early as possible in the enforcement process).
  • By 1 October 2016, all pilot councils will have in place a publicly available draft boat trailer impounding policy outlining their powers, declared areas and enforcement priorities.

The Office of Local Government will review the pilot process in conjunction with pilot councils, and in consultation with industry groups, and issue guidelines for councils and impounding authorities to inform the future implementation of the powers.

These pilot principles will remain current until further guidance is issued by OLG.

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