HOW TO DEAL WITH PARKING PROBLEMS ON PRIVATE LAND

A common bone of contention is the illegal parking of vehicles on private land, which is an ongoing problem where I live so I thought it would be worth touching on here.

The main difference between a public car park and private car parks is that you can be prosecuted in a Criminal Court for public car park offences with the risk of a criminal record, whereas any prosecutions for private car parking offences can be pursued in a Civil Court.

You are entering in to a contract with the owner(s) by parking on private land, and any breaches of that contract can be enforced.  In reality, it is quite difficult with the odds stacked in the offender’s favour, but it is certainly not impossible.

The laws on private parking differ in England and Wales to Scotland, although it was made illegal to clamp vehicles in England and Wales under the Protection of Freedoms Act in October 2012 and it has been illegal in Scotland since 1992.  It is still legal to clamp vehicles in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man.

Although clamping may be illegal in Scotland, England and Wales, a private car park owner can put barriers up to keep the offending vehicle on their land.

It is a common myth that you cannot be prosecuted for parking on private land in Scotland, which is untrue and a recent test case evidences this.

The first step to take is to check that the vehicle in question is taxed and has a valid MOT.  This can be done via www.ukvehicle.com and other websites.  If there are any discrepancies, you can contact the Police and arrange for the vehicle to be towed away.

MOT tests do not apply in the Isle of Man, so you can look for any obvious defects that render the vehicle unroadworthy such as bald tyres, cracked windscreen or mirrors or broken lights.

If the vehicle’s documentation or apparent roadworthiness is in order, I would recommend that you put a notice on the car stating that the vehicle will be removed within 7 days unless it can be proved that (they) have the right to legitimately park on the land in question.

You can request proof of ownership from the DVLA in the UK by completing Form V888 and stating your reasons why you wish to ascertain who owns the offending vehicle.  A formal notice can then be served at the owner’s address by recorded delivery stating that the vehicle is illegally parked and will be removed within 7 or 14 days (depending on how militant you are!).

An alternative would be to engage a private parking operator to enforce the rules and issue Parking Charging Notices, which can be pursued and upheld in a Civil Court.

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