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Private Parking Tickets: Get clued up!

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Everyone hates receiving parking tickets and usually we’ll pay quickly to get a discount. However, you should first check who’s issued the ticket. Many private firms can be unscrupulous in their practices and there’s the possibility of winning an appeal. Here’s our guide to the ins and outs of private parking tickets.

Who is the ticket from?

Before deciding on what to do, you should check who’s given you the ticket. Usually if you’re in a private area, such as a hospital or shopping centre car park, this will have been through a private company. You need to be careful to check it’s not from the police or local council, as there is a different process to follow. The private companies can be extremely professional in how they word and design the tickets to make them appear more official than they actually are.

It’s not a fine

Unlike tickets from the police or local council, private companies can’t legally fine you for parking. This is basically an invoice for not abiding by their rules, for instance parking over the maximum stated time or not being within a bay. There are no regulations on what the companies can charge for or how much.

Don’t just pay

It’s far easier to fight the ticket rather than try and get your money back, so if you intend on appealing against the invoice then don’t pay it. Many companies don’t even bother to follow up if you don’t respond. However, if you do nothing there is the possibility they could pursue you through the small claims court.

BPA approved companies

The British Parking Association (BPA) has a register of their approved car park operators. Check on your ticket to see if the company is registered. If they are, then you can use their independent appeals process. For companies that aren’t registered you can still appeal through the individual operator.

Appealing a ticket

If you want to appeal the charge, for whatever reason, then you should go through the parking company first. Their contact details should be on the reverse of the ticket and you’ll generally have to submit your appeal within 28 days of receiving the charge. There is the possibility that your appeal will be successful and you won’t have to pay anything. However, if they reject your appeal and it’s a BPA registered company, you can then use their appeals service. To do so you’ll require a verification code from the parking operator.

The BPA’s official appeals process, Popla (Parking on Private Land Appeals), is independent. This is a free service and applies to tickets issued in England and Wales. You have 28 days to appeal to the BPA after you receive your answer from the car park operator. There are specific grounds where you are eligible to make an appeal. These cover instances where:Private parking tickets

  • You abided by the rules or there was no clear signage
  • The charge was for the wrong amount
  • You didn’t own the car at the time
  • The car had been stolen

Gather evidence

It’s important to include any photographic or documentary evidence with your appeal, as well as any mitigating circumstances that might be helpful. There could be a long wait for your appeal to be heard, but in the majority of cases you will receive an answer within 35 days.

If your appeal is successful, the operator has to accept the ruling and cancel the ticket. If you lose this appeal, then you will have 14 days to pay the original fine, minus any early payment discount. However, if you still refuse to pay, the parking operator would have to take you to court to enforce the charge. This would be through the small claims court and if you lost you’d have to pay the ticket charge and any costs.

Non-BPA operators

Many of the private car parks are not run by BPA approved companies. In these instances, you can write to the company and put your case forward, but there is no independent appeals route. The company could be willing to accept your argument, take no further action or make no more attempts to contact you. However, they could demand the money and take you to court. To do so, though, they will have to find your address details and they are unable to get these through the DVLA. Therefore, you can use your own judgement as to whether or not to follow up the ticket.

The world of private parking tickets can be a mine field, so it’s important to be fully aware of the rules and where you stand. Understanding the system could help you save money and fight these tickets.

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About Catherine Stern

About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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