Private Property: No Parking

What can you do if unauthorised vehicles are parked on your private property? It can be a perennial headache for businesses when unauthorised persons are using a car park specifically designated for use only by your employees. It’s not only profoundly irritating and frustrating, it can cause real problems for those employees that have to drive to work due to lack of access to public transport or for those who need their vehicle on hand as part of their job. So what can you do to stop it?

The legal avenues

If a problem with unauthorised parking arises don’t bother the police or your local authority because parking on private land is not deemed an offence – it’s a civil matter. The police have no powers to deal with this and local authorities can’t prevent people parking on private land unless it’s an official car park covered by relevant by-laws.

Prior to 2012 you could threaten to wheel clamp transgressors, however, the 2012 Protection of Freedoms Act states: “The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 makes a number of changes to the law related to parking on private land. It bans vehicle immobilisation and/or removal without lawful authority, and provides private landholders with additional powers to pursue the registered keeper of a vehicle for unpaid parking charges providing certain conditions are met.”

Because of this legislation, businesses that play by the rules have a harder time of deterring unauthorised parking. Clamping on private land in England and Wales is outlawed, and in Scotland it has been since 1992, though there is no such legislation in Northern Ireland.

Legally, therefore, you can’t rely on the authorities.

Enforcing parking rules

That doesn’t mean you have no redress. Enforcement of parking on private land is not regulated so the laws of contract and trespass apply. Thus, if you put up adequate signage that indicated no parking that is clear and easily visible, the person who parks without authorisation is deemed to be in acceptance of the parking terms and any potential sanctions.

If your business has more parking spaces than are required for your employees, you can designate bays for permit holders, with parking permits being displayed, and mark spaces for visitor parking who can give their details at reception if leaving their vehicle for an extended period. You can then install a system that makes non-authorised persons pay for their parking. If they fail to pay, you are entitled to issue a charge notice.

Remember, this is a civil matter and you must ensure you have the right signs in place in case the issue goes to a court to be settled.

You could put up chains or electronic barriers that can only be accessed by a code or special key, however, you need to consider ease of access for your employees and visitors and assess if this is a cost-effective way of resolving the problem.

Take advice

If you are unsure of your rights, you could talk to a parking management company and see what the best solution might be for your particular circumstances. If you involve an outside company, there will of course be a cost.

Avoid confrontation with offending drivers as this can soon spiral out of control and assaults in such circumstances are not unusual.

Disclaimer: The information provided through Legislation Watch is for general guidance only and is not legal advice. Legislation Watch is not a substitute for Health and Safety consultancy. You should seek independent advice about any legal matter.

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