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Private Parking Companies – Should You Pay? (2024 Guide)

Private parking fines in the UK only become a legal obligation if court-ordered, and they can be appealed if deemed unjust. Find out how...
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Have you received a private parking fine and are unsure about the next steps? This article is here to help you. Every month, over 130,000 people visit our website for advice on fines and parking tickets. 

In this guide, we’ll provide easy-to-understand information on:

  •  What private parking is.
  •  Whether you have to pay fines from private parking companies.
  •  How much private parking tickets can cost.
  •  How to challenge or appeal a private parking ticket.
  •  The risks and truths about ignoring a private parking fine.

Getting a parking fine can be a real headache; some of us have been there too. With our expertise, we’ll help you understand your rights and options.

56% of Ticket Appeals Succeed

In some circumstances, you might have a legitimate reason not to pay your parking fine.

It’s a bit sneaky, but the last time I needed legal advice, I paid £5 for a trial to chat with an online solicitor called JustAnswer.

Not only did I save £50 on solicitor feeds, I also won my case and didn’t have to pay my £271 fine.

Chat below to get started with JustAnswer

*According to Martin Lewis, 56% of people who try to appeal their ticket are successful and get the charge overturned, so it’s well worth a try. In partnership with Just Answer.

What is classed as private parking?

Private parking is when you park in parking facilities on private land not owned by a local authority. 

These private car parks are usually managed by a car park management company.

The site is typically connected to a private business, such as a fast food chain, shopping centre or supermarket. But they can be connected to hospitals and universities as well.  

The sort of sites that car park operators manage include:

  • Private property parking
  • Commercial parking
  • Residential parking

What are private parking companies?

Private parking companies are legitimate businesses that help private landowners and other private businesses manage car parks.

Businesses outsource the day-to-day running of their car park to specialist companies that offer parking management services.

Private parking companies might also be called car park operators or car park management companies.

They offer a range of services from providing car park signage and ticketing machines to installing number plate recognition cameras and issuing parking tickets

Many private parking companies provide their services free of charge and claim the money raised from any Parking Charge Notices they issue.

What are Parking Charge Notices?

A Parking Charge Notice is the real name for a private parking fine.

In short, it’s a private parking penalty issued by a car park operator.

A private parking company issues a fine to a motorist who allegedly breaks parking rules (Terms and Conditions) for using the car park. 

The most common reasons for receiving a Parking Charge Notice are:

  1. Failing to pay for parking
  2. Failing to exit the car park before your ticket runs out (must be more than 10 minutes after!)
  3. Not parking in a designated parking bay

If private parking firms have on-site staff, the Parking Charge Notice might be left on the vehicle.

But if this isn’t the case, the company will send the parking ticket to the vehicle owner by retrieving the registered keeper’s details from the DVLA.

DVLA data access is only permitted if an operator is an ATA member.

TAKE ACTION NOW: Get legal support from JustAnswer

If you don’t think your fine is from a private company…

You might have received a Penalty Charge Notice instead of a Parking Charge Notice.

They are easily confused because they are very similar looking.

But a Penalty Charge Notice is a fine issued by a council or other authority for parking contraventions on public land

They are council-issued parking fines that are enforceable by law.

If you have a Penalty Charge Notice, head to my police and council fine page for information relevant to your situation.  

How much are private parking tickets?

Private parking tickets are capped at £100 with up to a 40% discount if you pay within 14 days.

 Therefore, a parking fine limit is in place for private operators.

All private parking companies must offer a discount or they’re breaking regulations and it could be grounds for an appeal.

There were plans to reduce the most you could be fined down to £50. But these plans are being reconsidered. They may or may not come into effect at a later date. (info as of June 2023)

Can a private parking company get my details from DVLA?

Yes, private parking companies that are members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) can request the address of the registered vehicle owner from the DVLA

Although private parking tickets should be issued to the person responsible for the contravention.

However, a car park operator sends the fine to the registered keeper when they don’t have the address of the driver (who may not be the vehicle keeper).  

Successful Appeal Case Study

Situation

Initial Fine £100
Additional Fees £171
Total Fine £271

The Appeal Process

Scott used JustAnswer, online legal service to enhance his appeal. The trial of this cost him just £5.

Total Fine £271
Cost of legal advice £5

JustAnswer helped Scott craft the best appeal possible and he was able to win his case.

Scott’s fine was cancelled and he only paid £5 for the legal help.

Get started

In partnership with Just Answer.

Parking fine scams to watch out for

Drivers are warned to stay vigilant because there are car park scams.

It involves criminals and scammers targeting cashless payment systems.

Occasionally, drivers call a number on a machine or they have to scan a QR code. It takes them to a payment website.

Fraudsters target the systems and steal personal information and money from unsuspecting motorists.

They use a fake QR code they stick on a payment machine which is disguised as a ‘quick pay’ option.

The fraudsters then steal money from a person’s bank account.

As such, I suggest you watch out for cashless payment scams.

Don’t entertain these private parking fines! (MUST READ!)

Don’t communicate with any car parking companies that aren’t members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA). 

These companies cannot legally request your address from the DVLA, which means you will never hear from them again.

They are not accredited parking companies.

Unless you write to them and disclose your contact information which I suggest you don’t.

You can check if a company is an ATA member by calling the British Parking Association (BPA) or by contacting the International Parking Community (IPC). 

Do I legally have to pay private parking fines?

It becomes your legal obligation to pay a private parking ticket if a court orders you to pay.

You’re not legally obligated to pay if you have not received a court order.

Can I ignore a private parking ticket?

You could choose to ignore a private parking ticket, but you run the risk of being subject to legal action and eventually having to pay more.

You’ll also miss the opportunity to pay a 40% reduced fine. 

It’s never wise to ignore a ticket. The risk of unpaid parking fines include court action.

More about Private Parking Fines…

There are scores of private parking companies in the UK.

Some of them are known to take legal action while others rarely do.

Find out more about the parking ticket you’ve got and the potential consequences of it by reading my company-specific posts.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can take a huge weight off your mind.

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How to pay private parking tickets

Most private parking tickets can be paid on the company’s website via a dedicated payment portal.

In short, they offer online payment for parking fines options.

You must first enter your vehicle registration number and your PCN reference to identify your private car park fine. 

What might happen if you ignore a private parking company fine?

 The legal consequences of unpaid fines includes being taken to court.

A number of scenarios could play out if you ignore a private parking operator, such as:

  1. They could persistently contact you requesting payment, possibly with repeated legal threats or increasing the amount owed.
  2. They could ask a debt collection agency to do the above
  3. They might stop contacting you for a period and then repeat one of the above
  4. They might take legal action, which would result in a court hearing and a CCJ

Can private parking companies enforce fines?

Private parking companies can ask a court to enforce a fine with debt enforcement action.

When a court orders you to pay and you ignored the court order or missed a repayment, bailiffs could be instructed to recover the amount owed.

Can private parking companies send bailiffs?

Private parking companies can only send bailiffs with permission from a court after an order has been served against you. 

The most common method of debt enforcement would be to use bailiffs (now called enforcement officers).

The bailiffs could come to your home.

Bailiffs charge fees that you also have to pay, so this is best avoided! 

Can I appeal a private parking ticket?

Yes, you have a right to open a parking fine dispute within 28 days.

You might be given extra time if there were mitigating circumstances preventing you from appealing, such as being in hospital. 

How to challenge private parking tickets

You can challenge the private parking ticket by sending a letter or submitting a statement via the private parking operator’s website.

There’s a parking ticket appeal process to follow found on the ticket you receive.

The statement should explain why you want the ticket to be cancelled and it should be accompanied by evidence which supports your arguments. 

The company must respond within 56 days or you automatically win the appeal. 

I’ve included a case study detailing a motorist’s question about appealing a parking charge notice here.

Source: Moneysavingexpert

What happens if I appeal a private parking ticket and lose?

If you lose a private parking ticket appeal, you can pay the parking ticket or ask for an independent tribunal to take another look. 

The independent group you may have to use is called Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) or the Independent Appeals Service (IAS).

Both services are free within so many days of your initial appeal rejection.

The service you have to use depends on which ATA the private parking company is a member of.

If the company is a member of the British Parking Association, then you will use POPLA.

But if the company is a member of the International Parking Community (IPC), you will use IAS – unless directed otherwise. 

Can not paying a private parking ticket affect your credit?

Your credit score won’t be affected by an unpaid parking ticket unless a court order is made against you.

If a court order is made against you and the debt isn’t cleared within one month, it will be visible on your credit file for six years. 

It would negatively impact your credit rating.

Hire a Parking Solicitor for less than a coffee.

If you’re thinking about appealing your parking ticket then getting some professional advice is a good idea.

Getting the support of a Solicitor can make your appeal much more likely to win.

For a £5 trial, Solicitors from JustAnswer can look at your case and help you create an airtight appeal.

Try it below

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In partnership with Just Answer.