A new law drafted by the Minister for Home Affairs could make parking on private land without permission illegal. At the moment, there is no formal law on parking on private land, meaning that any car, unless illegally owned, cannot be removed.

A trial is to take place in Jersey to see if making ‘nuisance parking’ illegal is successful and cost-effective. The law proposed would allow illegally parked cars to be removed and also make it unlawful for a car to be clamped if left on a driveway or private parking area.

What is nuisance parking?

Nuisance parking, the act of parking on private lands, such as a driveway, without prior permission is currently legal thanks to a loophole in the law. All of this is about to change with the introduction of a nuisance parking law.

Currently, under the Freedom Acts 2012, anyone can technically park on your driveway and not face any consequences such as clamping or towing unless lawful authority has been granted which can often be a long and costly process.

The Minister for Home Affairs in Jersey, Connétable Len Norman, said: “Vehicles that are parked on private land without permission can be a source of great frustration for private landowners. Currently, private landowners have few remedies to deal with the problem, and it can involve a costly legal process. The introduction of this law will make it much easier for private landowners to deal with vehicles that have been abandoned on their land or that are causing a nuisance, obstruction or a potential hazard to the emergency services.”

Pricey parking

Parking can be one of the most expensive hidden costs of driving, with some motorists having to pay up to £8 an hour in central London boroughs, it is no wonder some people choose to park on private land, which is free and can be closer to their destination. However, the cost can end up being on the owner of the land.

Criminal law and civil law become funny when referring to cars parked on private land, as unless the car has no MOT, tax or insurance on it, the car can legally be parked on your driveway. Although some may find this thought ridiculous it is technically legal. Removing a car from private land means that the owner of the land would have to foot the bill, which can run into the thousands, factoring in the cost of getting it removed, legal costs and any compensation for damage to the car. In many ways, it can seem a lost battle if the owner of the car doesn’t remove it themselves.

Many people, when doing the school run or dropping off people, do often use driveways and private land as a holding spot. This can come as great annoyance to the owners of that land as they are trapped into their driveways, or find that it is impossible to manoeuvre out of their road.

Current laws

According to the Office for National Statistics, over 100,000 cars a year are towed away, and while it does not delve into the specifics, it seems likely that a considerable number of these will be for illegal parking. But this only encompasses the number of vehicles towed away for illegal reasons, and so it is a strong assumption that the number of cars parked legally but in a nuisance way is much higher.

To remove a vehicle currently requires a court order from a civil court for the removal of a vehicle or to pursue civil action against the owner for nuisance. Some may have the legal action covered by their home insurance.
Advice from policing question site, AskThePolice, on the subject of “Someone has left a car on my land, what should I do?” says:
“Under no circumstances would we advocate you merely pushing the vehicle onto a road and leaving it there, as you may commit an offence.

Don’t damage/clamp the vehicle or have it removed by a third party without first seeking legal advice. If you do any of these things, you may commit a criminal offence or the owner may pursue a civil action against you.

You may be able to obtain the cost of having the vehicle removed from the owner but you will need to speak to your legal advisor about this.”

The new law

This new law gives private landowners the chance to fight back against parking is sure to be well received. While the current trial is only happening in Jersey, there will be many motorists across the country who are welcome to this trial starting and the future it holds for them.

The draft Motor Vehicles (Removal from Private Land) (Jersey) Law – will allow landowners to:

  • Remove vehicles from their land when the vehicles do not have permission to be there
  • Apply to the Petty Debts Court for an order preventing persistent ‘nuisance’ parking on their land

The law is set to come into play, once debated and approved, at the beginning of 2019, and a selection of State approved removal companies will carry out the work to ensure compliance is met and all involved can trust the team carrying out the work.

Is this a good idea? Would you like to see this happen in a nationwide rollout? Let us know in the comments below

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