Parking on private driveways

Parking can be extremely frustrating, especially at peak times in cities and towns where it can seem like there aren’t enough spaces to go around. This might explain why some motorists are prepared to take risks with parking that could land them with fines. This includes parking on the pavement as well as in other people's driveways

Cars parked on a road

The problem of strangers parking on private driveways or blocking access to them is more widespread than you think. It comes under the general umbrella of ‘nuisance parking’, which ranges from parking on double yellow lines to abandoned cars.

If you find someone has parked on your private driveway, you might feel shocked and angry. But the police can do little to help you as parking on private land without permission is classed as trespassing and therefore viewed as a civil matter.

Should your driveway be blocked by someone parking over a dropped kerb on the road, illegal parking rules apply. So, you have other options open to you.

Is it illegal to park in front of a driveway?

Strictly speaking, it’s not always technically illegal to park in front of a driveway.

However, parking over a dropped kerb is illegal and is a type of parking offence that is handled by councils.

So, let’s say there’s a dropped kerb on the road running alongside your driveway, and someone is parked over it.

Local councils can issue a penalty charge notice (PCN) against the owner of the vehicle parked there.

In cases where the parking over the dropped kerb stops you from moving your vehicle into your driveway, the police are unlikely to get involved.

But if it means you’re blocked in your driveway and can’t leave, the police may treat it as an anti-social behaviour offence.

Anti-social behaviour is defined by the Crime and Disorder Act (1998) as:

“Acting in a manner that caused or was likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress to one or more persons not of the same household as the defendant.”

 

Parking on a private road

Parking on a private road is a form of trespassing and counts as a type of nuisance parking. It means whoever owns the road can ultimately sue for financial compensation.

When someone illegally parks on a public road, the council or the police could become involved.

On private roads it’s down to the owner of the private road and their agents to act. But the owner of the private road isn’t allowed to do anything with the vehicles themselves, such as having them towed away or clamped for example.

And because trespassing is a civil rather than a criminal offence, don’t expect the police to get involved.

The council could remove the car, though only if it fits the definition of being abandoned. Otherwise, the owner of the private road would need to pursue the case in a civil court to get an order for the car to be removed.

A civil court could also award compensation to the landlord against the car’s owner.

What can I do if someone parks on or blocks my drive?

If someone parks on your driveway, it counts as trespassing on private land.

But if you do anything to the offending vehicle, you could be committing a criminal offence. This includes:

  • Causing damage

  • Moving it

  • Deploying a wheel clamp.

Not only that, but the other owner could try and claim on your car insurance policy for the damage to their car.

Even if you use your car to block the other vehicle from moving away from your driveway as retribution, this could seriously backfire.

You could be prosecuted for causing an obstruction to the public highway.

As the owner of the driveway, you could theoretically sue for financial compensation through the civil courts against the owner of the vehicle who has parked on it.

The problem is you need to be able to identify who the vehicle’s owner is. And bringing a civil case can be costly and time consuming.

A more practical solution is to install lockable car park posts or fold-down bollards on your driveway. These will prevent anyone from physically driving onto it.

You could also install a gate across the driveway with a locking system.

These measures could cost you, but it could be a sensible option in areas where parking is limited, and where nuisance parking is liable to reoccur.

You’re not allowed to simply place traffic bollards yourself on the pavement or the road, as this could be viewed as obstruction. In any case, this would be a rather inconvenient method of dealing with the problem.

If someone blocks your driveway, it might be worth talking to your neighbours to find out whose vehicle it might be, so the driver can be asked to move it. It could be that someone is visiting next door, so you can resolve the issue without running into problems with your neighbours.

You could also try putting a note on the windscreen, politely requesting the owner to move their car (emphasis on the word ‘politely’).

Otherwise, if someone has blocked your driveway because they’ve parked over a dropped kerb, you could contact the council.

They should be able to issue a penalty charge notice against the vehicle’s owner.

Councils can only remove the vehicle if it’s been abandoned, which includes when it is untaxed or is deemed unroadworthy.

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What are the laws regarding parking on driveways?

If someone parks on your driveway, then they’re trespassing, so it’s a civil matter rather than a criminal offence. This means the police don’t usually get involved.

If you’re lucky, the police may ask the driver to move their car, provided of course the owner can be located.

As it’s not a criminal matter, there’s nothing the police can typically do should the driver simply say no.

Understandably perhaps, given their high workload, you might not get much help from London’s Metropolitan Police in this situation.

“If someone parks their vehicle on your driveway without your permission, this is trespassing. This is a civil dispute and not something we can help you with.

“If it happens repeatedly with the same person / vehicle you might want to seek advice from Citizens Advice or a solicitor, but we would always recommend having a polite word with the driver first, as there may have been a simple misunderstanding,” says the Met on its website.

But if someone has parked over a dropped kerb and blocked your driveway, the police could treat it as antisocial behaviour.

“If a person has blocked your driveway and is preventing you from getting your own vehicle out, we may be able to help. You can report antisocial behaviour online,” says the Met

The other exception is if the vehicle is in a dangerous condition, where it is on private land or not.

It would then certainly be something that comes under the responsibility of the police and emergency services.

If a vehicle is leaking petrol or contains dangerous items such as gas bottles, you should contact your local police via 101. Or, if an emergency response is needed, through 999.

If a vehicle has been abandoned on your driveway, you should contact your local authority, as they may be able to remove it for you.

For more information, check out our guide to common questions about parking.

Parking in front of dropped kerbs

A dropped kerb is intended to allow vehicles to cross the pavement from the road to a driveway, being angled downwards to improve access.

Councils can issue penalty charge notices (PCNs) against vehicles that are partially parked across dropped kerbs, even when a driveway isn’t entirely blocked.

But parking near to a dropped kerb or opposite one isn’t illegal, regardless of whether access to a driveway is being partly restricted.

A £70 fine is typical for parking in front of a dropped kerb, though the charge depends on the local authority. It could be significantly higher in London than in other areas.

How to report nuisance parking

There are various types of nuisance parking. Depending on which category they fall into, can usually either be reported to the police or the local authority.

Illegal can be reported direct to the police, either online or on the phone via 101. This includes parking:

  • Where a vehicle is parked on zig zag lines

  • In a dangerous way

  • In a manner that blocks emergency services.

Other types of illegal parking should be reported to your local council, including parking:

  • Over a dropped kerb

  • On a pedestrian crossing

  • In spaces reserved for Blue Badge holders

  • In marked taxi bays.

Abandoned vehicles tend to come under the remit of councils to sort out, but some police forces encourage the public to report this to them as well.