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Who is in the right when someone parks outside your home?

The answer may come as something of a surprise

When someone keeps stealing the space directly outside your house, or inconsiderate neighbours have decided to park across your driveway, what are your rights and what can you do about it?

Sadly, recent research suggests there is considerable confusion and uncertainty about what rights – if any – you have.

Uswitch surveyed 1,000 Brits to find out how much they know about the laws on residential parking, and what extremes they’re prepared to go to in order to secure a spot outside their home.

From leaving angry notes on windscreens, to confronting strangers in the street, which drivers are fuelled with rage? And who’s most likely to steal your spot?

Are you legally entitled to park outside your house?

Despite more than 60% of drivers thinking they’re legally entitled to park in the spot outside their home, unfortunately this isn’t the case.

While your neighbours might give you preference over a particular parking space, police are keen to remind people that it’s not ‘your right’ to park in front of your house – unless you have a designated parking space.

From those surveyed, more than a third admitted they don’t know if it’s a criminal offence to park outside someone else’s house. However, provided your street isn’t governed by residents’ parking permits, any member of the public can park there – as long as they aren’t causing an obstruction.

Who’s most likely to steal your spot?

A quarter of drivers revealed they would see no problem parking outside somebody else’s home, with 30% of those aged 55+ the most likely to steal your spot. When it comes to locations, drivers in Brighton (36%) are most likely to park outside your house, followed by those in Nottingham and Cardiff (34%). Drivers aged between 16 to 24 are the wariest, with just 10% feeling comfortable parking outside another residential property.

A couple of windscreen notes we spotted while researching this article. One is heavily inspired by the famous Liam Neesan phone call in Taken; the other by the Carly Rae Jepsen song, Call Me Maybe

Where are you most likely to receive an angry note?

With so many Brits unaware of the laws on residential parking, it’s no surprise that frustrated residents around the UK are taking extreme measures to stop people parking outside their home.

In Edinburgh and London, one-in-seven people admitted they’ve left an angry note on a driver’s windscreen for parking outside their property. Residents in Brighton and Southampton are also penning their rage, with one-in-eight doing the same.

Who’s causing the most confrontation?

Taking it a step further, residents in Nottingham are most likely to confront a stranger for parking outside their home. One-in-eight people in the city admitted they’ve had an argument with a stranger, with those aged between 24 and 35 being the most confrontational.

Belfast isn’t far behind, with one in 10 residents also having disagreements. On the other hand, people living in Southampton and Leeds are the least likely to approach you, with less than 5% admitting to having a quarrel.

That said, when it comes to arguing with neighbours, people living in Leeds are most likely to have a dispute, with 10% revealing they have knocked on next door to complain about parking.

Would you report a vehicle as abandoned?

There’s currently no law on how long someone can park in the same space for, unless the police think the car has been abandoned and decide to remove it.

Shockingly, one-in-nine residents living in Southampton, Manchester, Liverpool and Belfast revealed they have reported a vehicle as abandoned in a bid to get it removed from outside their home.

Uswitch car insurance expert, Florence Codjoe, says: “While it’s really frustrating to find a vehicle parked outside your home for weeks or months, it’s the decision of your local council as to whether it’s removed. If the vehicle is damaged, causing an obstruction, uninsured and without road tax, it’s likely the council will remove it. However, if you know the owner of the vehicle, it’s probably best to have a polite discussion with them before contacting local authorities, as they may not realise how much distress their vehicle is causing you.”

Is it a criminal offence to park on somebody else’s driveway?

The survey revealed one-in-20 drivers have parked on somebody else’s driveway without permission, but what are your rights if this happens to you?

This may seem a little bizarre, but it’s not actually a criminal offence to park on somebody else’s driveway, a fact more than 64% of Brits are unaware of.

A strange legal loophole means anyone can park on your driveway, as the line between criminal and civil law is seemingly blurred.

A statement on the Metropolitan Police website advises: “If someone parks their vehicle on your driveway without your permission, this is a civil dispute and not something we can help you with.”

Unfortunately, it’s unlikely your local council will help either, as, once the car parks on your drive, it’s technically on private property – and local councils have no jurisdiction. Parking on someone else’s drive is considered trespassing, but this isn’t classed as a criminal offence.

Councils are required to remove abandoned cars from both public and private property. But if the vehicle is taxed, insured, has a valid MOT and isn’t in a dangerous condition, they’re unlikely to move it on private land.

So, what can you do? Codjoe says: “If you come home to find a stranger has parked their car on your drive, try having a polite chat with the driver first, as there may have been a simple misunderstanding. If you can’t come to a resolution and it happens repeatedly, then it may be worth contacting Citizens Advice or a solicitor to seek further help.”

Where is it illegal to park?

While it may not be illegal to park on a public street outside somebody’s home, or on a private driveway, there are some places that are completely off limits to drivers.

According to the Highway Code you must not park:

  • On a pedestrian crossing, including the area marked by the zig-zag lines
  • In marked taxi bays
  • In a cycle lane
  • On red lines
  • In spaces reserved for Blue Badge holders, residents or motorbikes (unless entitled to do so)
  • Near a school entrance
  • Anywhere that would prevent access for Emergency Services
  • At or near a bus/tram stop
  • Opposite or within 10 metres of a junction
  • Over a dropped kerb

Codjoe adds: “Parking in restricted areas could land you a fine of up to £1,000, so it’s important to ensure you avoid it. Not only could it get you into trouble, it could also obstruct pedestrians and other vehicles, putting their safety at risk. If your car is damaged or you’re involved in an incident while parked in a restricted area, this could also impact the validity of your car insurance if you need to make a claim.”

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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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