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Parking tickets on private land

In many areas, parking on public land is managed by the local authority. Where it isn’t, the police are responsible instead. Parking tickets can be issued by either the local authority parking attendant, or by a police officer or traffic warden.

On private land, parking is often managed by private parking companies who issue their own parking tickets. The rules about issuing these tickets are different to the rules about tickets issued by local authorities or the police.

On this page, read about what you can expect if you get a parking ticket if you parked in a private car park or on private land.

Parking on private land

If you park on private land, such as a supermarket car park or a privately owned multi-story car park, you will have entered into a contract with the landowner. If there are signs displayed in the car park setting out rules for using the car park, then these are the terms of the contract. If any of these rules are broken, then the car park owner can take steps to enforce them. There is often a parking operating company managing the car park for the owner or landlord.

NHS boards are responsible for the management of NHS car parking facilities. There may be a private car park operator managing the car parking facilities on behalf of the NHS board.

If you park on private land without permission from the owner, or breach any conditions imposed by the owner, then the owner or someone authorised by them, may give you a parking ticket. This might look like an official fixed penalty but it isn't one. It's a notice that the owner of the car park or the private car park operator intends to take you to a civil court, and will offer to let you pay the fine to settle the case out of court. This is a civil matter, not a criminal one.

Landowners and car park operators do not need licences to issue parking tickets. It is an unregulated business although many car park operators are members of the British Parking Association.

If you get a ticket

If you get a ticket on your windscreen or through the post, and you think that it is unfair, for example, you had a good reason for staying over the time you had paid for, then you should contact the parking operator, giving your reasons and asking them to withdraw the ticket. You could also approach the private company with an interest in the car park, for example, the supermarket whose car park you had parked in, and ask them to withdraw the ticket.

If you get a ticket and you don’t think you should have to pay, you can decide not to pay and not to reply to the parking operator. It is possible that the parking operator will take enforcement action in order to recover the charge although in practice a threat of this nature may not be followed through as the amount of money being demanded is usually quite small. A parking operator has no power to recover a parking charge without first taking court action. The company may continue to send requests to pay and you can continue to ignore these unless they decide to take you to the small claims court. If the parking operator does take you to court, you may be able to defend the action, for example, on the grounds that you did not park in breach of the parking rules and/or that the fee being demanded is unreasonably high.

If the company keeps contacting you, you can ask them to stop harassing you. If the company behaves badly, you can also report to this to the landowner or to the British Parking Association if the company is a member.

If the company is a member of the British Parking Association, their procedures can be followed to complain against the parking ticket. Any member of the BPA should wait 28 days before sending a final demand.

The British Parking Association

The British Parking Association (BPA) is a professional association for the parking industry. Its members include many local authorities and parking operating companies, some of whom remove vehicles parked on private land or in private car parks and issue parking tickets.

The BPA has produced a code of practice which its members are required to follow that includes guidance on the issue of parking tickets. If you have been given a ticket, while parked on private land, you could find out if the parking operator is a member of the BPA and so should have followed the relevant code of practice.

If you have a complaint about a company which you think is a member of the BPA, you should first follow the company’s complaints procedure to try to resolve the matter. If after doing this, you still feel unhappy, you can contact the BPA. The BPA cannot become involved in individual complaints, but it will investigate whether a member company has breached its code of practice. It may then decide to suspend or withdraw that company’s membership.

The BPA’s contact details are:

British Parking Association
Stuart House
41-43 Perrymount Road
Haywards Heath
West Sussex
RH16 3BN

Tel: 01444 447300
Fax: 01444 454105
E-mail: info@britishparking.co.uk
Website: www.britishparking.co.uk

Next steps

If you need more help

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Other useful information

The British Parking Association code of practice at: www.britishparking.co.uk

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