Permit car parks

Many residential and office car park require permits to be displayed, allowing the parking attendant to see whether the car is allowed to be parked there or not. A simple and effective scheme. This is another area that private parking companies love to get involved in, although quite often with unfortunate consequences.

There are two main models for permit car parks. First, is attendant operated. The parking company install signs and then periodically patrol the car park for cars without permits. The second is self-ticketing. The parking company install signs and hand over tickets to the site-owner or their representative to issue tickets themselves. In both models, the parking company attempt to enforce the tickets, and sometimes pay the land owner a percentage of the income.

As is typical in private parking, the operators main (usually only) source of income is the parking charge. It is in their interest to issue as many tickets as possible. Unfortunately, innocent motorists get penalised. Common examples include:

  • Permit holders permit fell off the dash board
  • Permit holders permit wasn’t put in their new car
  • Genuine visitors not displaying a permit
  • Replacement permits not re-issued

In all these cases, it is clear that they should not be penalised with a parking charge. The purpose of the permit scheme is to protect permit holders rights to park there – not to penalise them for genuine mistakes. As is typical in this industry, complaints often fall on deaf ears as the parking companies are driven by the income. Fortunately, these tickets can be fought – please read on.

Another case I’ve heard is where motorists park in permit-based car parks at times when the car park is not used. For example, a doctors surgery car park in the evening, or an office car park at weekends. In this case it is the land-owner’s right to allow or disallow the car park to be used as they see fit. If they do not want people to park there at weekends, then that is their right and it should be respected. There should be clear signage to communicate this, primarily to make their intentions clear, and secondarily to form a contract on which to issue charges. However, common law does not allow for private entities to penalise others, and so the charges may not be enforceable if the charge is disproportionate to the ‘parking event’.

If you’ve received a parking ticket for parking in a permit-only car park, have a look at our guides on private parking tickets and our fightback guide. A particularly strong angle for fighting such cases in the forbidding contract argument. Simply, if the contract forbids you from parking, then logically there can be no contract since there was no genuine offer. See our POPLA arguments for more details of this argument.

If you live in a property with an allocated space, read our specific piece on that – you have a very strong case for not paying.