Q: We have limited accommodation for the growing number of bicycles owned by our 120 residents while valuable space is being taken up by dusty old machines, some of which appear to have been abandoned.
Can we give notice to residents that if they do not remove the tag we’ve put on each bicycle by a specified date, the bicycle will be removed and disposed of? If so, what might be a reasonable period of notice?
Where do we stand legally if a bicycle we’ve removed is subsequently claimed by a resident? If we have a free-for-all allowing residents themselves to “adopt” unclaimed bicycles, effectively acquire an apparently abandoned bicycle, where do we stand if the original owner comes back to reclaim their old bike?
Doing nothing leaves valuable space taken up by some apparently abandoned bicycles, depriving new owners of a space.
FPRA Director Bob Slee replies:
There is no entitlement under your lease for storage of bicycles on the estate but facilities for doing so have been provided on a concessionary basis. It would be perfectly in order therefore for the concession to be subject to reasonable regulation. The fact that it has not been regulated hitherto could be explained by the fact that it has only recently become necessary to regulate because of the increasing number of residents requiring bicycle storage.
Whatever regulation you might introduce would need to be applied equitably and you would have to be very precise about the circumstances under which it might be decided to remove a bicycle from the storage area, where the bicycle would be removed to and how long it would be held there before it was decided to dispose of it. This is not an easy factor to determine. Just because a bicycle has the appearance of being unused doesn’t necessarily mean that it has been abandoned. If a resident leaves a bicycle in the storage area having believed it to be secure but then doesn’t touch it for ten years or so, it might look abandoned, but it still remains that person’s property.
Any regulations you might introduce therefore would need to be crystal clear on how abandonment is to be established. A reasonable way of dealing with this might be to issue users with an affixed numbered tag (akin to a parking permit) which would allow you to have visibility of which bicycles belong to whom. You will gather from the foregoing that there is no simple method of dealing with this effectively and it is a matter for judgment whether the problem warrants the remedy.
[Submitted March 2020]