Parking on private land

Clamping banned - but beware the ticketers

Don't pay cash to anyone issuing a parking charge notice

Don't pay cash to anyone issuing a parking charge notice

After a long running AA campaign, wheel clamping on private land will be a criminal offence from 1 October 2012, as set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

The only exceptions will be where wheel clamping is carried out lawfully, for example at some railway stations, airports, or local authority housing under local by-laws. The DVLA, Police and some other government agencies will continue to clamp in some circumstances too.

Clampers always aimed to maximise profits from each individual clamping because of manpower, time and hardware costs.  In contrast, tickets can often be issued remotely using CCTV cameras, or by parking attendants on foot who can issue tickets to a large number of vehicles in a relatively short time.

There has been a  surge in the number of parking charge notices (tickets) issued by private parking enforcers and the AA has campaigned for the creation of an independent parking appeal service since AA members began falling victim to poor practices by these companies.  This problem is likely to increase with the ban on wheel clamping.

There is clearly a need for landowners and private car park operators to have some control over those who park but enforcement must be fair and reasonable.

From 1 October 2012

  • Wheel clamping banned
  • Parking control companies can pursue vehicle keeper for any unpaid parking charge notices
  • An independent appeal service (POPLA) will allow drivers to challenge a parking charge notice

Contract and trespass

Parking enforcement on private land is unregulated and relies on the laws of contract and trespass. Put simply, you are deemed to have accepted the parking terms and sanctions if there is adequate signage.

The AA, British Parking Association, private parking enforcement companies and other groups all wanted private parking enforcement to be fully regulated by government but this has not happened.

Check signs carefully

Check signs carefully

Enforcing parking rules by issuing tickets

Most private parking spaces are made available for use with conditions attached; parking can be time limited or charges can apply through use of pay and display systems for example.

There may also be permit-only parking for residents, employees or visitors who must display a current permit in their vehicles.

Providing the conditions are reasonable and clearly indicated on signage, any breach can be dealt with.

Parking charge notices

From 1 October enforcement action cannot involve use of a wheel clamp or vehicle removal, and most infringements will be dealt with by issuing parking charge notices.

The parking charge notice will either be put on the offending vehicle or, as happens frequently now, the non-compliance will be detected by camera and a parking charge notice will be sent by post to the vehicle keeper registered with DVLA.

Only parking enforcement companies who are members of the British Parking Association’s (BPA) approved operator scheme (AOS) are allowed to obtain vehicle keepers’ details from the DVLA.

Parking on private land - general advice

  1. Always look for signs setting out parking rules
  2. Read and note the parking rules.
  3. Stick to the rules e.g. don't park in bays reserved for disabled badge holders.
  4. Just because you don’t see enforcement taking place it doesn't mean it isn't; cameras may be in use.
  5. If you have a parking charge notice put on your car don’t ignore it.
  6. If you feel a parking charge notice is wrong or has been applied unfairly, gather evidence before you leave; take a careful note of signage and take photos if you can.
  7. If your car is wheel clamped in a car park where no by-law is displayed call the police.
  8. If heavy-handed ticketers demand money on the spot and threaten you to pay in cash, drive away or consider calling the police.

Two different regimes

It must be noted that there will be two very different parking ticket regimes operating on private land after 1 October 2012. 

BPA members will be operating within the AOS code meaning a common standard and, importantly, motorists' right for an independent appeal.

Non-BPA private enforcers may continue to issue tickets under contract/trespass law. 

Parking conditions must be clearly signed and any disputes resolved through the civil court. The appeal service is not available for tickets issued by non BPA members.

Even though BPA member companies have established a right of independent appeal, a disputed case can still be taken to civil court if the independent appeal decision is disputed by either party.  

How much can they charge you?

From 1 October the normal maximum sum a BPA (AOS) member will demand for a breach of parking conditions is £100 which must be discounted by up to 40% for prompt payment.

In the unlikely event a BPA member demands more it must be fully justified for example, by setting out the consequential losses caused by the breach of terms and conditions.

Non-BPA members will set their own level of sanction but this must still be set at a fair value representing consequential loss. 

Parking charge notice

Parking charge notice

Unscrupulous ticketers

From 1 October 2012 there is nothing to stop cowboy clampers turning into unscrupulous and heavy handed issuers of parking 'tickets'.

They may well issue these tickets personally with the same threats and intimidating manner they used when they were wheel clampers.

We strongly advise drivers not to pay cash to anyone issuing a parking charge notice (ticket); any bona fide parking control company will allow payment by post/credit card after the event.

Rogue ticketers will not be able to obtain the ‘vehicle keepers’ address from DVLA in order to pursue the debt, and may therefore resort to threatening behaviour to scare drivers into paying up there and then, possibly demanding extortionate sums.

In extreme cases unscrupulous tickers may be guilty of criminal offences like ‘demanding money’ and the police should be called.

Parking charge notice on your car?

  1. Check for signs setting out parking rules to ensure the ticket is justified.
  2. If you don't think the ticket was justified, gather evidence such as photos or details of witnesses in preparation for a challenge
  3. If you agree with the ‘ticket’, irrespective of who issued it, and accept the circumstances under which it was issued then you should pay it as soon as possible.
  4. Don't pay cash to anyone issuing a parking charge notice (ticket) - any bona fide parking control company will allow payment by post/credit card after the event.
  5. If you don't think the ticket was justified and it was issued by a BPA member, follow the procedure to challenge it as set out on the ticket, or write to the firm which issued it.  Do this quickly and provide the reasons why you are challenging.  It's best to use recorded post.
  6. If you don't think the ticket was justified and it wasn't issued by a BPA member, then gather your evidence and wait for them to take you to court.

 

Parking charge notice in the post?

  1. If you agree with the ‘ticket’ and accept the circumstances under which it was issued then you should pay it as soon as possible.
  2. If you are the registered keeper but were not the driver at the time, you can provide the driver's name and address to the parking enforcement company and they will then try to get the driver to pay.
  3. If you don’t agree with the ticket, follow the procedure to challenge it as set out on the ticket, or write to the firm which issued it – do this quickly and provide the reasons why you are challenging.  It's best to use recorded post.
  4. If the parking enforcement company doesn't reply promptly to your challenge keep all paperwork – check that they received your challenge then wait to hear from them.
  5. If you were not the driver at the time but the driver does not pay, for example, if the parking enforcement company rejects a challenge, or you do not name the driver, then you as the keeper becomes liable for the parking charge notice.

26 September 2012

 

Parking - a nice little earner?

Read AA head of public affairs Paul Watters' article, "parking - a nice little earner?" in the October 2013 issue of Parking News.

Parking - a nice little earner?