Unauthorised parking on private property. Call the council?
Your first response may be to consider calling the council. But surprisingly there is very little that your local council can do about unauthorised parking on private land. Unless the vehicle is blocking a public highway, council officers have no power to move it.
Okay, you may think, so the council can’t help. In that case, I’ll call the police. Surely they will be able to move this vehicle. After all, it’s parked on my property. But...
Call the police?
The police also have very few powers in this type of situation. Technically as soon as a vehicle crosses on to your property without authorisation, it is classed as trespassing. Unfortunately, though, this is seen as a civil offence and cannot be dealt with under criminal law. The police simply do not have the resources or the power to deal with issues such as this.
If you do want to pursue this route under civil law, it can be a lengthy and expensive process. You will need to obtain an eviction notice from the courts and a solicitor will need to acquire a civil court’s permissions to find out the identity of the legal owner of the vehicle. A judge would then be needed to order the vehicle to be removed. This could leave you with fees rocketing up to thousands of pounds.
However, if the vehicle is in a dangerous condition, you may have more luck. If the vehicle is, for example, leaking petrol or contains something dangerous like gas bottles, then you can contact the local police and it’s possible that they will be able to remove it in this situation.
Likewise, if the vehicle is abandoned, then you may be able to persuade your local council to get involved in removing it after all. Councils must remove abandoned vehicles from land in the open air, including private land. However, local council policies about what constitutes a vehicle being abandoned may differ, so you will need to check this with your local council officers.
If the unauthorised vehicle does not fall into the above categories, and can’t be classed as either dangerous or abandoned, then you will need to find another option for dealing with this scenario.
Contact a private tow truck?
As tempting as it may seem, arranging to have the vehicle towed away by a private tow truck is not one of the options you should consider. Alright, you are probably feeling pretty angry that someone thinks they can just park their vehicle on your property without authorisation. But you don’t want to end up in a situation where the vehicle is damaged whilst it is being moved, and you will then be liable to pay for the damages.
The solution? Act pre-emptively
The best way to manage this is to act pre-emptively, before you are faced with the vehicle appearing on your property. There are several things you can do to enforce parking rules in your car park.
There are legal routes that you can pursue as the laws of contract and trespass apply. This means that you can put up adequate signs to indicate clearly that there is no parking without authorisation. Make it clear that anyone caught parking in an unauthorised manner will face sanctions for violation this rule. However, it is important to note that you cannot threaten to clamp the wheels of unauthorised vehicles, as this is illegal.
ANPR can be helpful
The use of Automated Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) may be beneficial for keeping your car park free of pesky parkers. An ANPR system can keep an eye on your car park 24 hours a day and record footage of everyone driving in and out. This could provide valuable evidence if needed later on in an investigation. It means that you have proof of unauthorised vehicles using your car park and makes it easier to make a case against the drivers. ANPR technology matches each vehicle’s number plate with the records of authorised users of your car park. This enables it to determine whether the motorists are authorised and whether they have paid for the use of the parking space, as appropriate.
Use online parking booking systems
Online parking space booking systems could also be a helpful way of keeping your car park spaces for legitimate users. This offers flexibility for customers and minimises the opportunity for people to overstay, as customers pay for the duration they are parked in advance. YourParkingSpace offers a quick and simple online booking platform for motorists to book convenient parking spaces at a wide variety of venues across the country. Registering your parking spaces with YourParkingSpace is a great way of allowing customers to book online in advance.
Think about lighting and CCTV
Keeping your car park secure is important for many reasons. Customers want to know that they will be safe using the parking space and that their car is not likely to get damaged while they are parked there. It is also important for discouraging unauthorised vehicles from parking there. Safety is definitely something to prioritise in your car park. You could consider aspects such as lighting, accessibility, and the use of crime prevention and detection technology such as CCTV.
Self ticketing is another good option
A further option to consider, if unauthorised vehicles are becoming an issue in your car park, is self-ticketing. This is becoming more popular, particularly in small shop car parks where more conventional methods of enforcing parking rules are not suitable. You can purchase a self-ticketing kit from an operator, who will then manage the parking bays in your car park. It is important to make sure the operator is a member of the AOS (Accredited Operator Scheme). You can then issue a parking ticket when needed and return a copy to the operator. They will then access the DVLA’s Vehicle Keeper Details database to pursue the outstanding ticket, if necessary.