Illegally parked cars on a private property

While legislation is clear for cars parked on public land, the same cannot be said for parking on private property. Whether you’re a landlord, homeowner or business owner, someone parked on your property without consent is a nuisance. 

For business owners with designated customer parking spaces, unauthorised parking may lead to a potential financial loss for your business. While, for homeowners and tenants, this could leave you desperately searching for parking after a long day instead of curing up in front of the TV. In either case, no one wants to be inconvenienced. So, what do you do if someone illegally parks on your private property?

Illegal parking vs. unauthorised parking

To understand this issue better, we will establish the difference between illegal and unauthorised parking. Illegal parking refers to parking violations that take place on public land. Whereas, unauthorised parking refers to parking on private land without permission.

For this reason, someone parking on your drive without consent, for example, is not deemed as illegal parking. In fact, it is regarded as trespassing, a civil rather than criminal offence. So, even though unauthorised parking is frustrating, the police have little to no power to remove the vehicle from your property. And in most cases, the police will not get involved at all. 

Your local council may be more willing to help. Nonetheless, this is typically only in situations where land has been marked as a legitimate car park under relevant by-laws. If this isn’t the case, then liability for removing the vehicle from private land unfortunately falls to the landowner.

What can you do if someone parks on your property?

As we mentioned earlier, there is currently no legislation in place regarding unauthorised parking on private property. So, it is quite unclear how private landowners should go about removing vehicles from their property. While revenge may provide you some much needed instant gratification, you should avoid taking the law into your own hands. 

The Metropolitan Police advise landowners to remain calm and not engage in any antisocial behaviour that could result in prosecution. Instead, they suggest speaking with the driver politely to resolve the matter informally. If you are unable to find the driver, you could leave a polite note on the diver’s windshield. Sometimes, the simplest approaches are the most effective. While it may be difficult to remain calm, you are more likely to be successful if you approach trespassers politely.

Nevertheless, polite discussions can quickly turn heated and there is no guarantee that trespassers will respect your wishes. But at all costs, avoid responding by pushing the car into the road; hiring a private tow truck to remove the vehicle or clamping the vehicle. 

Hiring a third party is not only costly, but also you may be held liable to pay for any damages. Even if the vehicle isn’t damaged in the process, the owner could still pursue a civil action against you. This is due to the fact that taking such action could be deemed a criminal offence. Perhaps, seek legal advice before acting just to be on the safe side.

What legal action can be taken

Alternatively, you could pursue a civil case against the trespassing owner if they refuse to remove their vehicle. You’ll need the help of a solicitor to get permission from the civil court to identify the vehicle’s legal owner. Following this, to remove the vehicle from your property,  you’ll need a judge to grant the order in court. 

Nevertheless, note that this process can be considerably slow and there is no guarantee that the court will rule in your favour. Not only that, but also civil cases can be quite expensive- unless your insurance policy covers such expenses, that is.

How to stop unauthorised parking on private property?

To prevent unauthorised parking in the future, it is best to put in place physical barriers. Though not always aesthetically pleasing, fences, gates, collapsible bollards and parking ramps will help deter unwanted trespassers. Moreover, physical barriers can make homes feel safer, giving homeowners much needed peace of mind.

For business owners that have several spaces to protect, you may want to consider hiring a registered parking management company. If someone parks on your property without permission, the company will issue a Parking Charge Notice (PCN) to the owner of the vehicle. As long as you have visible no-parking signs displayed around your property, you can go to court to claim any unpaid PCNs.

If you’re a tenant, your landlord or agent may be able to provide you with  further support on this matter.