Nuisance parking and abandoned vehicles

Nuisance parking

Nuisance parking potentially affects the proper enjoyment of a community, and may be treated as a criminal offence under the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

Nuisance parking and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

The 2005 Act specifies the following two criminal offences by businesses in relation to nuisance parking:

  1. Exposing vehicles for sale on a road;
  2. Repairing vehicles on a road.

Exposing vehicles for sale on a road

Some garages and other businesses place cars for sale on the street or in lay-bys for extended periods of time. This can cause a significant nuisance to local residents and can take up valuable parking spaces.

An individual will be guilty of the offence of parking a vehicle on the road to sell if they leave two or more motor vehicles parked within 500 metres of each other on a road or roads where they are exposed or advertised for sale. On conviction, the individual may be fined up to £2,500.

I’m a private individual and want to sell my car. Will I be committing an offence?

The 2005 Act only applies to businesses. If you are challenged by the local authority, you will not be liable if you can prove you were not selling the car in the course of business.

In reality, the offence targets people who run businesses (or sell vehicles as a side-line) and use the road to store their cars and advertise them for sale. Common sense would be expected of the local council when dealing with private individuals.

Using the road as a workshop

It is a criminal offence for a business to carry out repairs, maintenance, servicing, improving or the dismantling of a motor vehicle (or any part or accessory) on a public road. These activities are called ‘restricted works’. The maximum fine on conviction is £2,500. For minor breaches, local councils can choose to deal with this matter by issuing a £100 fixed penalty notice (reduced to £60 for early payment).

I’m a private individual and need to repair my car. Would I be liable under the Act?

As above, if you are challenged by the local authority, or prosecuted, you can avoid liability if you can prove you were not carrying out restricted works in the course of a business (or for gain or reward).

Again, the local council would be expected to use common sense when dealing with members of the general public who are repairing or maintaining their private vehicles on the road.

Reporting offences

If, as a member of the general public, you become aware of a situation which could amount to one of these offences in relation to nuisance parking, you can report them to the local council.

Abandoned Vehicles

Vehicles that have been abandoned on the roads, or on public or private land, can cause significant nuisance to residents, visitors and others. Abandoned vehicles take up valuable parking space and are frequently unsightly. They attract vandalism and may have been used in the course of a criminal offence and should not be ignored.

Under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978, it is the duty of the local authority to remove a vehicle that has been abandoned without lawful authority in the open air or on the highway. They have power to immediately remove any vehicle that is only fit to be destroyed, if they think it has been abandoned.

Abandoned Vehicles and the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005

Where the local authority has been able to identify an individual as having abandoned a vehicle contradictory to the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act, the local council can serve a fixed penalty notice of £200.

While the individual is subject to the fixed penalty notice, no criminal proceedings can be brought against them for 14 days. If they do not pay the notice, criminal proceedings can then be brought. A person who is subject to a criminal conviction for abandoning a vehicle will be liable for a maximum penalty of £2,500 or three months’ imprisonment, or in some cases both.

What to do if you spot an abandoned vehicle

If you believe a vehicle has been abandoned you should report it to your local council providing them with as much information as you can. Possible information to report includes:

  • The location of the vehicle (what address is it parked outside or near to);
  • The make, model and colour of the vehicle;
  • The registration number (if visible);
  • The condition of the vehicle;
  • If the vehicle has been burnt out;
  • The amount of time the vehicle has been there.

Other Important Information

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About the Author

Nicola Laver LLB

Nicola is a dual qualified journalist and non-practising solicitor. She is a legal journalist, editor and author with more than 20 years' experience writing about the law.

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