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How to deal with anti-social parking

Carlton Boyce / 09 June 2016 ( 19 May 2020 )

Parking has become a big issue in many towns and cities. What can you do if your neighbours or commuters park inconsiderately or block your driveway?

Illustration of a car trying to park in a car park but a van has taken up two spaces by parking diagonally
Inconsiderate parking comes in many forms. Find out what you can do about it...

Parking restrictions are becoming more stringent at a time when the demand for parking spaces is increasing. The result is a perfect storm of unfulfilled demand and homeowner frustration as inconsiderate drivers resort to parking on double-yellow lines, across dropped kerbs and even on the driveway itself.

This has left some householders feeling that they have little option but to resort to ever-inventive ways of seeking revenge, including blocking cars in with bags of gravel and writing what has been called “the most passive aggressive yet genius parking note ever written”.

Do you REALLY have to pay parking fines on private land?

So what are your options if you find yourself the victim of inconsiderate and selfish parking?

Do householders have the right to park outside their own house?

No, there is no legal right to park directly outside your own home, even if you have a residents’ parking permit.

Anyone can park anywhere, as long as they don’t break the law or contravene any parking regulations or restrictions that might be in place, such as those around parking on certain pieces of private land.

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Is there a restriction on how long a car can be parked in one place?

Again, I’m afraid that there isn’t. As long as the car is taxed, insured and MOT’d (if applicable), it can be parked at the roadside indefinitely if the owner wants to do so.

The only exception is if the police believe that the car has been abandoned, in which case they can remove it. This means it might be worth calling them on 101 and asking for their advice if you know of a car that’s been parked in one place for months on end.

Can a homeowner reserve a parking spot using cones?

The local council will sometimes grant permission for you to do so as a temporary measure for something like a funeral, but otherwise no, you can’t reserve a space. If you do so, you risk prosecution for obstructing the highway.

Are you ever allowed to park on a double yellow line? Read our guide to parking rules.

What you can do if someone parks across your driveway

The law only deals with obstructions to the highway, not your driveway, so the rules cannot help you. The police might be able to give you advice, but it’s highly unlikely that they would be able to take any action against a selfish driver other than to ask them to move it.

What you can do if someone parks on your driveway

Anyone parking on your property without your permission is trespassing, and trespass is a civil, rather than a criminal, offence.  This means that the police are again powerless to take action or report them for an offence.

Charlotte Dixon, solicitor at DAS Law, said: “The first step with any anti-social parking problem is to contact your local authority 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.

“One option that’s available 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 driver.”

It gets worse, too: blocking them in with your car could lead to you being prosecuted for obstructing the highway…

10 laws motorists ignore or forget.

Taking revenge

Finally, please don’t be tempted to vandalise or otherwise damage a car as an act of revenge. 

Even relatively small acts like smearing grease on a windscreen or sticking a hard-to-remove sticker to block the driver’s view, could be interpreted as vandalism, leaving you open to arrest and prosecution.

For more tips and useful information, browse our motoring articles.

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.