Car park sign reminding drivers to pay and display

What Are Private Parking Tickets (& Do You Have To Pay Them)?

We’ve all been there. You’ve searched for ten minutes, looking for a parking space, only to realise that you’re 10p short in change to pay for an hour of parking. Dismayed, you fight with your slow, 3G internet connection to download one of the many parking apps and pull out your bank card in the middle of a crowded car park to enter your details into your phone. It’s enough to make you take your chances with the parking wardens… but wait, you’re in a privately-owned car park (as in, one not owned by the council)? Do you even need to worry? What authority do they really have? Let us explain all.

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Penalty charge notice sticker on car windscreen

What Are Private Parking Tickets?

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a ‘private’ parking ticket? Essentially, it’s a fine issued to someone who is deemed to have parked in a way that breaks the rules of that area or car park – the important distinction is that these tickets come from a private firm that privately owns the land you’re parked on. They’re nothing to do with the police or local council.

Do You Have To Pay Private Parking Tickets?

No. You don’t have to pay a fine issued by a private firm, but that doesn’t mean you should blatantly flout the rules of parking or condemn your ticket to the shredder.

Most people do pay their private parking tickets, because the car park operators can and often will summon you to court in order to get you to cough up the cash. Is it possible that you’ll get away scot-free without ever hearing from the car park company again? Absolutely. But you might also end up with bailiffs at your door demanding you pay the debt. Whether you’re willing to risk that, or fight your corner and appeal, is entirely your decision.

Can Private Parking Tickets Be Enforced?

Yes, but not by the police or any other formal authority. They are enforceable by debt collection agencies who will be recruited by the owners of the private parking establishment. This can, in turn, lead to a court appearance or other consequences which could have a negative impact on your life.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay A Private Parking Ticket?

Choosing not to pay a fine from a privately-owned car park can go one of two ways; nothing will happen, or you’ll rack up more and more debt the longer you wait to pay it off as the car park operators summon you to court, send bailiffs to your door and generally pester you into submission.

Of course, there’s the option to fight the ticket instead. This might also require you to go to court, but at least you’ll be doing so on your own terms and could end up getting the charge overturned – if you really believe you’ve been hard done by, that is.

How To Appeal A Private Parking Ticket

Your first step should be to identify the firm that’s issued the ticket and learn whether they’re a member of a trade body, like the British Parking Association. If so, that organisation should have an official complaints or appeal process which you can follow.

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