I've been clamped or given a parking ticket on private land

Parking tickets issued on private land aren’t covered by the same rules as council-run car parks. But notices stating the rules must be clearly displayed.

Your parking rights on private land

If you receive a parking ticket while on private land - for example, a retail park, hospital, supermarket or housing estate - and the ticket doesn't name the police force or council that's issued it, it's likely to be from a private company. 

This type of parking ticket is known as a Parking Charge Notice - Penalty Charge Notices can only be issued by the police or a local authority. 

The car park operator is entitled to pursue you for a parking charge for contravening any rules it has displayed in its car park. 

But the charge should be proportionate to the normal advertised costs of parking or to the losses caused to the company by you overstaying in the parking space.

Unfair parking tickets

It's worth noting that a Parking Charge Notice is not a fine and cannot be imposed upon you. But a private company can pursue you through the court for payment.

If you think the charge is unfair or you have a mitigating reason for refusing to pay it - such as ill health or vehicle break down - you can contact the operator or landowner to explain why you're refusing to pay.

Although the parking company is likely to make a fuss, refusing to pay won't damage your credit rating. Neither can the parking company send bailiffs to your house to collect the charge. 

The company can only enforce the charge by taking the time and expense of taking court action against you in the small claims court. 

Disproportionate charges

If you admit you overstayed in a parking space but the charge is disproportionate, you can try sending the landowner the money you think is fair and covers the cost of your overstay.

Many motorists have reported this to be a successful way of settling a parking charge on private property. 

Realistically this approach is only worth considering for charges in excess of £100. 

Alternatively, use our step-by-step guide to contest an unfair parking ticket on private land.

Appealing a ticket

As owners of private car parks can set their own rules, unfair practices are more common. But signs or notices stating the rules relating to the car park must be clearly and obviously displayed. 

If you're issued with a parking ticket in a private car park and you weren’t made aware of a particular restriction, you can appeal. 

You must first appeal to the car park operator and follow the operator's internal appeals process. 

If your appeal is unsuccessful, you can refer your challenge to the Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) service

POPLA will only hear appeals against car park operators that are members of the British Parking Association (BPA). 

If your car park operator is not a BPA member, check to see if they're a member of the Independent Parking Committee (IPC). 

In order to ensure the best outcome from your appeal, you should collect evidence, such as photos and the original ticket, to support your claim.

Look at our how to appeal a parking ticket on private land page for a step-by-step guide to appealing your ticket.

Affiliation to a trade association

However, it's worth bearing in mind that car park operators must be members of an accredited trade association in order to access DVLA data on any customer contravening their parking rules. 

You can check if your parking company is a member of the BPA Approved Operator Scheme (AOS) or if they're a member of the IPC.

If a car park operator is not an affiliated member, they won't be able to obtain your details from the DVLA. 

So, if you contact the company to complain about a parking ticket, you are inadvertently providing them with your details which means they could then pursue you to pay the parking charge. 

Summary

  • Private car park owners can set their own rules but these should be displayed clearly. 
  • If you're issued with a ticket unfairly you can appeal to the car park owner.
  • If your appeal is unsuccessful you can take your challenge to POPLA.

Clamping ban on private land

As of 1 October 2012, clamping and towing on private land was banned in England and Wales. 

It's already banned in Scotland, but the same law doesn't apply in Northern Ireland.

There are some exceptions though, where bylaws give landowners the right to clamp and tow, including railway stations, ports and airports.

Police and local authorities can still clamp and tow vehicles on private land. 

Government agencies such as the DVLA and Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) can do the same with unroadworthy or untaxed vehicles. 

The ban on clamping and the POPLA appeals service have been established in a bid to try and reduce unfair practices.

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