Nearly seven million parking tickets were issued by private companies in the past year, so top tips for appealing have been revealed.
Motoring experts from LeaseVan.co.uk have given drivers nine pieces of advice to help those potentially wronged appeal unfair private parking tickets, after a million more were issued than in the previous 12 months.
The guidance comes after a record breaking 6.81 million vehicle keeper records were requested by private parking management companies from the DVLA in 2018-19, up 20 percent from 5.65 million in 2017-18.
Landowners are well within their rights to monitor and charge for the service of providing vehicle owners with a space to park up, so motorists who break reasonable rules should pay reasonable additional charges.
But tickets issued in private car parks are actually invoices, not official council parking fines, even if they look very similar, so there’s no reason for drivers to be unnecessarily out of pocket.
It can often be misleading, perhaps deliberately, as both are chequered yellow and can be abbreviated to ‘PCN’, but private Parking Charge Notices are not the same as local authorities’ Penalty Charge Notices.
Potential grounds for appealing against private companies include broken ticket machines, unclear signage, honest human error, unforeseen circumstances such as breakdowns or health issues and excessive charges beyond the losses the landowner could reasonably have incurred.
Tim Alcock from LeaseVan.co.uk said: “The number of private parking tickets issued has risen every year over the past decade, but many of these may have been issued unjustly.
“With each parking charge costing up to £100 each, it’s vital drivers are prepared for to fight their corner if they think the ticket is unfair.
“So we’ve decided to issue some useful guidance that could help motorists if they’re issued with a potentially unfair private parking charge.”
Here are the nine tips for appealing unfair private parking tickets:
1. Don’t automatically pay then appeal
It’s much more difficult to try to recoup money you’ve already handed over, so contest an unfair charge before making any payment.
2. Remember private parking tickets aren’t fines
Only councils have the official authority to issue parking fines – a ticket issued by a private company is simply an invoice for what, in their opinion, is a breach of contract. So if you’re confident the ticket was unfair or not legitimate, you could simply write to the company and make it clear why you won’t be paying, rather than engaging with their usual complaints system – especially if the company isn’t a member of a trade body.
3. Contact the landowner directly
If a parking firm have been employed by a shop, hospital, leisure facility, stadium or attraction, for example, then contact the place you parked up directly. They may overrule and cancel your ticket if you’re a loyal customer, have a valid excuse or if the issue could damage their reputation.
4. Bear in mind discounts
If tickets are payed within a fortnight, a rate reduced by a minimum of 40 per cent must be offered. Appeals don’t extend this 14 day window for a lower charge though, so only peruse your case if you’re sufficiently confident or can afford the full amount should you be unsuccessful.
5. Gather and keep evidence
Take photographs of your vehicle, the car park, bays, signage, entrances, conditions, circumstances – anything that could prove your case. Keep copies of all correspondence, receipts and any witness statements too.
6. Conduct relevant research
Rather than simply writing an angry letter or quickly filling out forms, it could help your cause to conduct some legal research. Including certain phrases and making a clear, well supported argument with precedent alongside your evidence could make the difference between success and failure.
7. Keep an eye out for ticketing technicalities
If the parking ticket issues has made a clear error, breached their own or industry rules, or broken the law themselves, at any stage of the process, then this could help your cause or even invalidate your ticket.
8. Be prepared for court
In extreme cases, a private parking company could take you to court to claim the money they believe they’re owed. But if you’re convinced you’re in the right and willing to spend the time and effort of fighting the company, you don’t have to back down if legal recourse is threatened.
9. Beware threatening or unaccredited firms
Written correspondence demanding payment, from the car park operator or debt collection agencies, are complaints regarding a billing dispute. They can’t send bailiffs to your home or damage your credit score, unless they take you to court, win, and you still refuse to pay.
We’d never advise drivers to ignore letters in case it gets them in to bigger trouble, but some independent parking firms may not have your details unless you provide them, as unregistered companies have no right to access DVLA data.
Ultimately it’s up to individual drivers to assess the merits of appealing or accepting private parking tickets on a case by case basis. LeaseVan.co.uk accepts no responsibility for the consequences of following any of their nine top tips.