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Would you park on a stranger's drive?

Parking problems are one of the most frequent disputes among neighbours, but how would you feel about strangers parking on your drive?

Car parked on driveway

When it comes to neighbour disputes over parking, blocked driveways are often the biggest gripe, followed by using a neighbour’s space without asking.

But some drivers take even more extreme measures if they can’t park quickly when they’re out.

'I found strangers parked on my drive'

Jenny and Malcolm Banks live near a Bedfordshire hospital and have often come out of their house to find complete strangers parked in their driveway.

"At its worst we found people parked there about once a week," says Jenny.

"If I caught them I'd ask them to move but they shrugged it off claiming the hospital car park was full. They were often abusive too."

The couple contacted the local police, but found the only long-term solution was to put lockable parking posts across their drive.

Parking enforcement

Parking enforcement may once have been under police control.

But following the Road Traffic Act 1991 it's now largely the responsibility of local authorities, which can issue penalty charge notices for parking offences on the roads.

"If it's on the public highway, it's a local authority or police matter," says Paul Watters of the AA.

"But on private land like a driveway, it's a civil matter which means it's often a low priority for the police."

Parking on driveways and the law

Parked car with violation ticket

This is private land so parking on someone's drive counts as trespassing and the local authority should be the first port of call, according to the AA.

The police can get involved if the driver is threatening or intimidating, but if this is an ongoing problem, you may need to protect your land by putting up gates or parking posts.

"Frustrating though this may be, what you can't do is pop a line of cones on the road outside," says Watters.

Do so, he says, and "you're then committing a criminal offence because they could cause an accident".

If your driveway is blocked by cars parked on the road outside, speak to the local authority.

"This counts as obstruction and a penalty charge could be issued," Watters adds.

This can be up to £130 in London and £70 elsewhere. However, if a car is deemed to be causing a major obstruction, the police do have powers to remove them.

Allocated parking

If you don't have a garage or live in a flat you may have allocated parking, but what happens if your neighbour uses it?

This is private land and even if it's a designated space and listed on the property title deeds, it's difficult for the police or local authorities to intervene.

Again, the best option is often to consider putting up posts or gates.

Parking on pavements

Car parked on the pavement

It's a common sight in some residential areas, but pavement-parkers make life difficult for pedestrians.

"In London it's an offence to park on the pavement unless the roads are extremely narrow, in which case there may be signs showing how to park partially on the pavement," says Watters.

Beyond London it can be a grey area.

Some local authorities ban parking on grass verges, but seem to turn a blind eye to vehicles parked partially on the pavement on residential roads.

However if vehicles are causing an obstruction or are parked across yellow lines then they can get a penalty charge, so call the local authority if you're concerned.

Parking in front of dropped kerbs

Under the Traffic Management Act 2004 drivers shouldn't park in front of dropped kerbs as they're there for access reasons.

Local authorities can issue penalty charge notices for this, but in reality many of them don't have the facilities to actively enforce this on a regular basis.

It seems like parking sensibly is just something the British people aren't ready to do.

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Sue Hayward

Carl Chambers

Sue Hayward is a personal finance broadcaster, journalist and author. Sue talks and writes on money matters including chatting on BBC Radio & TV as well as contributing to magazines, websites and newspapers. Sue's also written two books; the latest of which is 'How To Get The Best Deal'.

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