Legally speaking: Anti-social parking and the law
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From residents with on-street parking deciding the piece of road outside their house is for their sole use to the fury and frustration of arriving home to find a stranger parked on your drive, anti-social parking is a major issue in the UK.
Before you start plotting a spot of light vandalism, take note of these key legal facts from Hannah Parsons, a solicitor at DAS Law.
• What action can I take if I can’t park outside my house?
A homeowner has no special legal right to park directly outside their property. All road users have the same right to park anywhere on the public highway as long as they do not contravene parking restrictions.
• How long can a vehicle be parked on the street for?
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There is no time limit on how long a vehicle can remain parked in the same space on a road as long as they are correctly taxed and not in breach of any parking contraventions. The exception to this is if the vehicle is thought to have been abandoned, in which case it can be removed by the police.
• Can I reserve a parking space on the street?
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Trying to keep a parking space available outside your home using cones or some other obstacle could be viewed as an obstruction and you could be liable to prosecution – unless your local authority has granted you the right to do so for something such as a funeral.
• What if someone else parks on my driveway?
If a vehicle is parked on your driveway without your permission, they are trespassing. As trespass is a civil and not criminal offence, the police will not always get involved. At most, they may send an officer to try and determine the owner of the vehicle and ask them to move it.
• Can I block their car in?
If someone has parked on your driveway and you were to block them in, your vehicle may be causing an obstruction to the public highway and this is a criminal offence. So the owner of the vehicle could call the police.
• Some residents have vented their frustrations by damaging offending vehicles. Can they get into trouble with the law?
Vandalising a parked car is a criminal act and you can be prosecuted. Even if just spraying chip fat on the windscreen or blocking the exhaust, these acts could still be classed as vandalism.
• If I am a victim of anti-social parking - who do I complain to?
The first step with any anti-social parking problem is to contact your local authority and/or the police. However, there is little the law can do to support home owners – even if a car blocks your driveway. The Highway Code can only help if the parked car is causing an obstruction to the road but not in relation to private land. In some circumstances, the local authority can take civil enforcement action if a vehicle is parked in front of a dropped kerb and so it would be advisable to contact them.
Another option is to pursue a legal claim for nuisance on the grounds that the driver is interfering with your use and enjoyment of your property – but to do so you’d need to know the identity of the offending vehicle’s owner.