If you are the driver of a car that is owned by a company, such as a hire (such as Hertz, Budget, Europcar, Avis, Sixt, Enterprise or Alamo) or lease company (such as LeasePlan or Alphabet), then you may need to take some specific steps to avoid being stung if you get a Parking Charge Notice. Often lease and hire companies do not appreciate the difference between council-issued and privately-issued parking tickets. If these companies are contacted by a parking company as the registered keepers of the vehicle, they may just pay up (irrespective of whether the ticket was deserved or not), and then pass on the cost to the lessee or renter. What’s worse is that they quite often add an admin charge on top!
The reason they pay up immediately is that as the registered keeper, in the absence of payment, they believe they may be pursued through legal action by the parking company. However, since a Parking Charge Notice (private parking ticket) is treated under contractual law, the contract is between the motorist and the parking company; the lease/hire company is not party to the contract and therefore have no direct liability for it.
The Protection of Freedoms Act in 2012 mudied the water a little, by introducing the concept of keeper liability. This means that should the parking company follow a procedure defined in law, and the ticket does not get paid, then they could hold the keeper (e.g. your company or the lease company) liable for the ticket. However, if they name the driver, they relieve themselves of any liability. I’ve written detailed piece on the subject for fleet managers.
As the lessee/renter, your problem is that they company may just pay up and you will need to argue for your money back. As we all know, arguing with such companies is quite painful and slow going and it will take you some time to get to the right person and get them to agree with you. In this case you should check the terms and conditions to check whether they specifically cover parking charge notices – NB. these are not penalties or fines, so something discussed in those terms is likely not applicable.
So, what should you do if you get a ticket on a rented or leased vehicle?
If you have a Parking Charge Notice placed on your windscreen then you must act quickly. You should check the terms and conditions of your agreement with the company. The best case is that they understand what a Parking Charge Notice is, they refuse to provide your details to the parking company, and they do not charge you for dealing with the letters. However, if they don’t know the difference between a privately-issued charge and a council-issued fine, or they charge you for dealing with them, then you probably want to keep the parking company away from the rental/lease company. To achieve this you would need to write to them, identifying yourself, but at the same time denying any debt and not explicitly naming the driver. By doing this, you should give them no reason to apply for the register keeper’s details from the DVLA.
If the Parking Charge Notice is not issued as a ‘ticket’ on the windscreen, and instead the parking company write to the rental/lease company as the registered keeper, then you will need to work through the issue with them. Some important points when doing this:
- Check whether the Ts & Cs specifically cover privately-issued parking charges. Don’t let them fob you off by claiming it is covered by terms about fines and penalties – they are not the same.
- Point them to material on the internet such as this article on Fleet News
- There’s a good example here of someone successfully fighting a Rental company over such a matter and winning