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You’ve got a parking ticket on private land - what can you do?

If you get a parking ticket on private land, you can either pay it or challenge it. What you choose to do will depend upon whether you think the charge is justified, who issued the ticket, how you feel about challenging and what may happen if you do.

Find out more about your options when you get a parking ticket on private land.

Top tips

If you break parking rules or park where you shouldn’t, a private landowner could issue a parking ticket or put a barrier down that was already there to stop you leaving a car park.

Since October 2012 it has been illegal for landowners to clamp in private car parks.

More about when your car can be clamped or towed away

What is private land?

Private land includes places like shop car parks, other privately owned car parks and private roads. It doesn’t include public roads or public land, such as council run car parks. Some local authorities have private land, so check the parking signs to find out what kind of land you are parking on.

Parking tickets issued on private land are called Parking Charge Notices. These are different to Penalty Charge Notices issued by the Council or Police on public land. The appeals processes are also different. It may be difficult to tell these tickets apart so be careful to check.

When could you get a parking ticket?

You may get a parking ticket on private land if you are:

  • the car driver and a ticket is handed to you or left on your windscreen
  • the registered keeper of the car and get a ticket through the post.

Parking and contract law

Parking on private land is about the law of contract where drivers are invited to park on land. For example, if you're invited to leave your car in a car park. If landowners allow you to park on their land, you enter into a contract with the landowner. If you break the landowner’s parking rules, you break your contract with the landowner. You might do this by not paying, staying longer than the time you have paid for or parking in the wrong place.

If you break the parking rules private landowners can issue a parking ticket and recover the losses they've suffered. Often a parking company will have a contract with the landowner to issue tickets on their behalf.

Parking and trespassing

If you park on private residential land without permission you may be trespassing. Companies can charge you for ignoring the rights of the landowner, if they can prove you have trespassed.

Pay or challenge?

What you can do will depend upon whether or not you are breaking parking rules or trespassing by parking without permission. It will also depend upon the type of company you are dealing with.

If you break parking rules

Most parking companies are members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) such as the British Parking Association (BPA) and the Independent Parking Committee (IPC). ATA parking companies have to follow rules set down in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and have to comply with the trade association code of practice. Landowners who aren't ATA members themselves often contract out parking management to an ATA company.

If you park on land you've not been invited to park on

If you park without permission, companies can charge you for ignoring the rights of the landowner if they can prove you have trespassed. These are companies that don't manage parking facilities, but can charge you for trespassing on the land.

Paying a parking ticket

If you decide to pay your parking ticket, ATA members must give you a discount for paying early while other parking companies may or may not.

Challenging an unfair parking ticket in a car park

If you park on private land and get a parking ticket, you might think this isn’t fair because you didn’t break the rules or the rules weren’t clear. You may also think a charge is unfair if it wasn't clear to you that you were parking on private land. Tickets can also be unfair if the amount you are asked to pay is too much. You can challenge the ticket or the amount of the charge by sending a letter then appealing.

Writing to a parking company which is a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA)

If you get a ticket from a parking company that is a member of an Accredited Trade Association such as the British Parking Association (BPA) or Independent Parking Committee (IPC), you are asked to write to that parking company with your reasons if you think the parking ticket is unfair. If you are unsuccessful you can make a formal appeal.

If you choose to ignore the ticket, an ATA parking company can get details of the registered keeper of the car from the DVLA and pursue them for payment.

Writing to a parking company which isn't a member of an ATA

If you get a ticket in a car park from a parking company that isn't an ATA member, you can write to that parking company with your reasons if you think the parking ticket is unfair. As these companies are not ATA members, they might ignore your letter. If you do write and include you contact details for a reply, then decide not to pay the parking ticket, the company could pursue you in court if they wanted to.

If you ignore a ticket from a parking company which isn't a member of an ATA

If you get a ticket in a car park you may choose not to write in the first place and ignore the ticket. If you don’t write, the parking company won’t have your contact details and can’t take you to court. Non ATA parking companies aren’t allowed to get details of the registered keeper of the car from the DVLA.

Challenging an unfair parking ticket

If you ignore a ticket from a company when you have trespassed on private residential land, rather than broken parking rules in a car park, a company may be able to get details of the registered keeper of the car from the DVLA if you don't pay. These companies aren't required to be members of an Accredited Trade Association.

If you're taken to court

If you are taken to court there may be good reasons to challenge the parking ticket or the amount of the charge, but if you lose the case, you will have to pay the charge and court costs. It’s possible that the parking company will take action to recover the money, but in practice this may not happen as the amount of money being demanded is usually quite small.

If the case gets to court you can fill out a form for defending the case that will be sent to you with the claim form. You may not have to attend court in person.

Next steps

Find out if a parking company is a member of an Accredited Trade Association

British Parking Association (BPA)

Telephone: 01444 447 300
Website: www.britishparking.co.uk

Independent Parking Committee (IPC)

Telephone: 0800 619 11 22
Website: www.theipc.info

Other useful information

Citizens Advice

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