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  • Complete Guide to Private Parking Fines Everything You Need to Know

    Complete Guide to Private Parking Fines: Everything You Need to Know

    Nobody intends on getting a parking fine from a private company, but it happens to even the most cautious of drivers. You might even be feeling a little worried about what your next steps are, whether you can appeal, and how your parking fine will affect you. Firstly, don’t panic! You’re not the first, and you certainly won’t be the last person to get a private parking ticket. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you navigate your way through either paying or appealing your private parking fine, and some other questions you may have too.

    Ask a UK Parking Ticket Expert

    What is a Private Parking Fine (PCN)?

    A private parking fine, also known as a parking charge notice or PCN, are issued to drivers that park their cars on private land and break the rules set by the company that manages that space. If a parking warden or a camera picks up that you’ve broken any of their rules, they will either place a parking charge notice on your windshield, or send you one through the post.

    Unlike penalty charge notices, these fines aren’t actually legally enforceable. Essentially, they’re an invoice from the private parking company to you for breaking the rules they set out. It’s important to understand that a parking charge notice isn’t seen as a criminal matter. Instead, it’s a civil matter, which means that the “ticket” you’ve received is a notice to you that the owner of the land or the private parking company are invoicing you for breaking the rules.

    In some cases, the company that manages the private land you parked on will offer you a discount if you pay their charge within 14 days of the parking charge notice being issued. For example, you might end up paying £35 instead of a £70 fee. But, that doesn’t mean that you have to pay.

    How much are Private Parking Tickets (PCN)?

    The price of private parking tickets may vary between parking operators, but they are all capped at £100. And, if you pay within 14 days, you’ll get up to 40% discount on the ticket. Private parking companies must offer a discount if the fine is paid early otherwise it could be seen as a solid reason for appealing.

    The cost of private parking tickets have recently been discussed to be reduced to £50. However currently it is still capped at £100.

    Free Parking Ticket Appeal Letter Download

    What are the reasons for getting a Private Parking Fine (PCN)?

    When you get a private parking ticket (PCN) from the landowner or a company that manages the land on behalf of the owner, there are a few reasons why you might be ticketed;

    1. You didn’t buy a parking ticket when using the land to park your vehicle.
    2. You used the land to park your vehicle without their permission.
    3. You stayed longer than the ticket you purchased covered you for.
    4. You breached one of the rules set out on the signage displayed in the car park.

    Number 4 on that list is a particularly important one to pay attention to. Some parking management companies cover more than one location. And, in some cases, there are what seems like one car park that’s actually been split into two. There’s a particularly famous case covered by Joe Lycett at the Southgate car park at the McDonalds/Starbucks in Stanstead on television. He warns people to check signage on private car parks carefully to make sure you’re not breaching any of the rules.

    Source: Money Saving Expert

    Failing to check the small print on some of these signs could land you with a PCN and a hefty charge.

    Free Parking Ticket Appeal Letter Download

    Do I have to pay a Private Parking Fine (PCN)?

    In short, no. 

    Legally, a parking charge notice (PCN) isn’t enforceable. But, that doesn’t mean it will simply go away either. If you do decide to pay the fine, you’ll get a discount if you pay the charge within 14 days of receiving it. 

    If you do decide not to take action and ignore your private parking fine, you might still receive correspondence from the land owner or management company. They may still send requests asking you to pay, which could be distressing.

    They may even decide to take you to court for the amount owed. However, because the amount owed is small, they also may choose not to pursue the fine any more. But, if you do end up going to court, you could end up with a court order to pay the fine. That is unless you can provide sufficient evidence that you didn’t break any rules or anything else that would back you up in your decision not to pay the fine.

    If you still fail to pay after the court has ordered you to pay the fine, you might then wind up with bailiffs showing up at your door to recover property to cover the cost of the fine.

    Essentially, unless you believe you shouldn’t pay the fine, it might be better to deal with it sooner rather than later instead of ignoring your parking charge notice. That might be paying the fine, or you could go down the appealing route, which we’ll cover later in the article.

    How can I pay my Private Parking Fine (PCN)?

    You might be in a position where you’ve realised that your parking charge notice was rightfully issued due to a mistake on your part, but don’t worry, everyone makes mistakes. The good thing here is that paying a private parking fine is really simple! Most private parking companies will have dedicated payment portals to pay off your fine in one simple action.

    All of the details you’ll need will have arrived with your PCN, but you’ll need to find the website of the parking company that issued the ticket, enter your registration number and PCN reference, and follow the instructions from there on out.

    Be wary of private parking scams – IMPORTANT TO KNOW

    There are lots of scams going around with car parks at the moment, and it’s important to know what to look out for to avoid being ripped off.

    In some private car parks, drivers can call a number on the machine or scan a QR code to take them to a payment portal to pay for using the car park. However, some scammers have been sticking fake QR codes on the payment machine and then once you’ve entered your payment details, they can steal money from your bank account.

    Are Private Parking Companies allowed to request my details from the DVLA?

    In short, yes.

    However, the private parking company must be a member of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA) before requesting your address from the DVLA.

    It’s worth noting that private parking tickets are the responsibility of the person driving the car rather than the owner of the car. This means that if you weren’t the one driving your vehicle when the ticket was issued, the person who was is responsible for the ticket.

    However, if the ticket wasn’t left on the vehicle, the private parking company will send the fine to the registered keeper of the vehicle, which is why getting a PCN might have come as a shock to you. Check to make sure if you were actually the person driving your vehicle that day!

    Don’t use unaccredited parking companies – IMPORTANT TO KNOW

    Another thing to keep in mind when using private parking is that you shouldn’t use parking companies that aren’t members of an Accredited Trade Association (ATA). Parking companies that aren’t members of an ATA cannot legally request your address from the DVLA, so if you have had a PCN left on your windshield, they cannot contact you at your home address, which means you’ll never hear from them again.

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

    Essentially, if the company isn’t a member of an ATA, don’t make contact with them.

    How can I appeal my Private Parking Fine (PCN)?

    If you think that your parking charge notice (PCN) has been unfairly issued to you, you can appeal to the private parking company that issued the ticket. If you’re successful, the fine will be completely wiped and you no longer have to worry about the company contacting you. If you do decide to appeal, you’ll need to open the dispute within 28 days of the ticket being issued.

    There may be a chance to get extra time if you have extreme circumstances that may have prevented you from making an appeal, such as being in hospital.

    Appealing a Private Parking Fine process

    Unlike a penalty charge notice, a parking charge notice has a slightly different appeals process. The first thing you should do when appealing a parking charge notice is contact the parking operator. This might be the landowner or the parking management company. Give your reasons for appealing the ticket, and ask them to withdraw the fine. This is known as an informal appeal.

    You’ll need to make sure that you provide the landowner or the parking company with as much evidence as you can gather. This might be a picture of unclear signage or even documents proving that you sold your vehicle before the date on the ticket.

    We have a handy parking ticket appeal template that you can use to make sure you don’t accidentally miss any information!

    Free Parking Ticket Appeal Letter Download

    What happens after I appeal my Parking Charge Notice?

    Once you have submitted your parking charge notice appeal, the private parking company or landowner then has 56 days to review, consider and make a decision of your case. They will then let you know if they accept or reject the appeal you’ve made. If you’re successful, your parking charge notice will be cancelled and you don’t need to take any further action.

    However, if they do not respond within 56 days, you automatically win your case! From there, you can either pay the fine or take your appeal further.

    Can I appeal against their decision?

    If your appeal is rejected, don’t worry! If you want to appeal your case further, this is where a formal appeal comes into play. You’ll need to ask an independent tribunal to look at your case. There are two independent groups you can use:

    1. Independent Appeals Service (IAS)
    2. Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA)

    The independent group you end up using will depend which ATA the private parking company is a member of:

    1. You’ll use the Independent Appeals Service (IAS) if the company is a member of the International Parking Community.
    2. You’ll use Parking on Private Land Appeals (POPLA) if the company is a member of the British Parking Association.

    What happens if I don’t pay my Private Parking Fine (PCN)?

    If you choose not to pay your parking charge notice, the problem won’t simply go away. In fact, the private parking company or landowner could choose to take you to court and if they win, you’ll receive a court order that will force you to pay the fine.

    If you don’t pay that fine within a month, it could affect your credit score and be visible to creditors for six years! So, if you do end up with a court order, you’re better off paying your fine as soon as possible.

    Not only that, if you don’t pay a fine ordered by the court, you could end up with bailiffs turning up at your door to recover belongings to pay the debt you owe.

    However, it is important to remember that in some cases, a private parking company or landowner won’t take legal action on such a small amount of money owed. But, it might be in your best interest not to test that option. You’re better off either paying the fine or going down the appeals process.

    How can I avoid getting a Private Parking Fine (PCN)?

    While you might not be able to avoid getting out of your parking charge notice this time, you can still take notes to avoid getting one in the future!

    Read signage carefully

    Lots of drivers often find themselves caught out because they didn’t read and take the time to understand the signage correctly. Some private parking companies can be sneaky with their wording! You might benefit from taking a picture of the signage on the day you use a private car park as evidence in the future, especially if the wording or jargon used can be seen as misleading or confusing.

    Either way, understanding the terms and conditions of using the private car park will help prevent you from receiving a PCN in the future.

    Park within a marked bay

    Another reason drivers often find themselves with a parking charge notice is because they are slightly outside of one parking bay. If your vehicle is too big for one space, buy two tickets and park across both.

    Pay the correct fee

    Drivers are also caught out when they try and save a bit of money on their parking ticket. If you know you’re going to be a certain length of time, extend how long your ticket lasts as a safety precaution. Most car parks now offer the option to pay by card too, so it’s easier than ever to do it!

    Also, make sure your ticket is clearly displayed in your vehicle, even if other vehicles around you aren’t displaying theirs. It’s better to be safe than sorry!

    Free Parking Ticket Appeal Letter Download

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