After a homeowner in Lincolnshire recently found a stranger’s car parked on her driveway, she was baffled when she called the police and discovered the law was not on her side.
Natalie Robbins was told by the council and police that, as the vehicle was on her private land, she would need to move it herself.
The story has left Brits across the country asking ‘is it illegal for someone to park on your property?’ Well the technical answer is no. Here's an explainer...
Can anyone park on your driveway?
While the Highway Code warns drivers not to 'park in front of an entrance to a property,' this refers to allowing access to their home and does not prohibit them from leaving their car on your driveway. There is no criminal law against their car being left on your private property without your consent as it is an act of trespassing, which is classed as a civil offence.
The Road Traffic Act 1991 gives the responsibility to local councils but they will only remove a car when it is on a public road as they have no authority to do so when it is on your private property. The council is only required to move the car from your land if the car has been abandoned, i.e. it is not taxed, has no MOT or is in a dangerous condition.
What can you do if you find a stranger’s car on your driveway?
As there is a slim chance of getting the law involved, the best thing to do is remain calm and not get yourself into a situation where you could be prosecuted. The fastest solution is to remove the car yourself by hiring a private tow truck, according to the RAC. But this is not advised by the police who say that you should seek legal advice first and that if the car is damaged, the owner of the car may pursue a civil action against you.
'Under no circumstances would we advocate you merely pushing the vehicle on to a road and leaving it there as you may commit a number of offences,' the Ask The Police website states.
What legal action can you take?
You can pursue a civil case for trespassing and if the civil courts rule in your favour, the vehicle would be removed from your drive. A solicitor could get the civil court’s permission to find the legal owner of the vehicle involved and the judge would make the removal an order of the court.
Another option is to pursue a legal claim for nuisance behaviour on the grounds that the driver is interfering with your use and enjoyment of your property. It’s important to remember that the legal process could be lengthy, expensive and may not resolve the issue.
How can you prevent someone from parking on your driveway in the first place?
There are some ways to deter motorists from leaving their car on your private property. As Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, puts it: 'While clamping, or even the threat of clamping is no longer an option, a physical barrier such as a collapsible bollard, fencing or gate should act as a deterrent.' This, however, may not be very aesthetically pleasing for some.
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