Apartment complex parking - here's how to keep your car safe

Whether you keep your car in an open-air parking spot or on the street, here are some pointers on how to keep your car safe…

If you own a car, parking space is probably near the top of your list of requirements when looking for an apartment to rent. While most apartment complexes offer a garage as part of the lease, some only have a limited number of open spots which, more often than not, results in a continuous battle for parking space. Some buildings have no guaranteed onsite spots or no parking spots at all, which forces tenants to leave their cars at the mercy of the streets.

This makes your car vulnerable to burglars waiting for the perfect timing. According to research the second most likely place to have your car stolen is when it is parked on the street in town, while vandalism is more likely to take place when it is parked on a street in a residential area. So, whether you keep your car in an open-air parking spot or on the street, here are some pointers on how to keep your car safe and how to make the most of your current parking situation.

The first rule of parking, and because you have no guarantee that your car is safe in an apartment complex, is to remove all personal belongings from the car. Take all possessions with you to the apartment, even those that have no value; these items, for example, a GPS holster or a sunglasses case, may signal that there may be more expensive things up for grabs.

Pick a good place to park. If you arrive home and find the parking lot empty, you have the freedom to pick any spot if it’s not reserved. Generally, most people prefer to park close to their apartment, but be careful not to park near any trees, sprinkler systems, or construction debris. This will help prevent damage to your vehicle while parked in the lot.

You should also think strategically if parallel parking on the street is your only option. If you can’t get parking space in front of the apartment complex, aim for an open and well-lit space. Parking along a busy road where there’s a fair amount of foot traffic may also help to deter thieves.

You should also consider if you’re legally allowed to park where you want to park, and how much it will cost you. If you’re looking for property to rent in Cape Town, for example, you can expect to pay R130 when you park on a city street for eight hours. In residential areas where parking is managed you currently pay around R50 for eight hours.

Parking in an open lot can take its toll on your car and keeping your car safe from the damaging effects of the elements – UV rays, dust, rain, hail – should be a big priority. Invest in a car cover made from durable material and keep an eye out for weather forecasts so you’ll know when to use it. A car cover can also protect against accidental scratches, spills, and bird droppings.

If your building doesn’t offer parking, it’s worth checking out whether other apartment complexes in the neighbourhood have parking available. With any luck, there may be a few residents who don’t own a car but whose lease includes a parking spot. The tenant may be all too happy to let you park there if you cover the parking fee included in their rent, if the landlord approves.

As important as it is to keep your apartment and its contents safe, you also need to take as many precautions as possible when parking your car. Thinking about car security early on will make living in your new apartment the best possible experience.