A relative died and someone is parked on his driveway, what can we do?

One of my relatives sadly passed away and, as executors to his estate, we are selling his house. 

Unfortunately, someone has started parking on the driveway of his house, so we cannot use it ourselves or access it.

If that wasn’t enough, someone has also parked a car blocking the driveway to the property. This means we have no easy access to the house and it’s difficult if handymen are coming in to do work in the property. This has all been going on for weeks.

Both of the vehicles in question are taxed and their MOTs are up to date.  

What can we do about these cars? What are our rights? And can we get them clamped or taken away? Via email.

Parking woes: It’s worth knowing what you can and cannot do if you’re faced with anti-social parking (file image)

Jane Denton replies: What an awful situation to be in. Your relative has passed away and two people, who I suspect are aware the property is empty, have taken it upon themselves to park on and over the driveway of your relative’s house.

I’ve heard many other stories of similar problems with people parking over driveways and blocking access to properties. One has to wonder if the prevalence of the issue stems from a decline in societal standards and norms.

You did not mention in your email if you had taken preliminary steps to try and get the matter resolved. 

While there is of course there is no guarantee of success, a starting point would be to leave notes on the cars requesting that the vehicles are moved. 

You mentioned in your email that the two cars in question have up to date MOTs and tax payments. This is important, as it affects what your rights are, and, sadly, in this instance, is unlikely to help you in your quest to get the vehicles shifted quickly.

Derek Millard-Smith, a partner at JMW Solicitors, specialising in consumer regulation and parking law, says: Where parking is not invited, it is motorist behaviours such as these that are unfortunately all too common on both private and public land that gives rise to the need for parking enforcement.

The behaviours of the motorists are sadly adding to your distress following the passing of your relative.

It is likely that the driveway of the property is private land and the roadway outside it is public land that is maintained at the public expense.

Rules: It is illegal to obstruct a dropped kerb enabling access to a property (file image)

Rules: It is illegal to obstruct a dropped kerb enabling access to a property (file image)

Where the motorists have not been invited and continue to park there, the enforcement options relating to the driveway are time consuming.

Clamping on private land was outlawed for parking infringements in 2012, so this is not an option and it is illegal to do so.

Options available involve steps to erect signage to inform that the land is private land and parking or remaining on that land is prohibited. 

Private residences themselves are limited regarding issuing parking charge notices under contract law. 

You could in theory engage a private parking operator who is able to issue parking charges appropriately and fairly as a member of an accredited trade association such as the British Parking Association, in accordance with the relevant code of practice and in line with consumer protection legislation.

Alternatively, you could sue the motorist for the legal tort of trespass, which again is a lengthy process.

A practical solution would be to erect some sort of barrier on the private land such as gates or padlocked parking triangles, provided this is done legally.

There are more options available for the vehicle obstructing the driveway, particularly if this is public land and there is a dropped kerb. 

Highway Code rule 243 deals with dropped kerbs and stopping is only allowed briefly where traffic becomes temporarily stationary. 

It is illegal to obstruct a dropped kerb enabling access to a property for which the local authority can issue a Penalty Charge Notice. There don’t need to be double yellow lines. 

Advising the local council is advisable notifying of this. Complaints can also be made to the local police via the non emergency 101 number, but your first port of call should be the council. 

If the problem continues, the property owner can request the council to place a white line on the road on front of the dropped kerb. 

You must have the authority, however, as the resident of the property, which may be an issue if ownership of the property has not yet passed via probate.

If the vehicles remain on the land for a long period of time the council could also be asked to attend to move them as abandoned vehicles.

Because they are both taxed, the council cannot use their powers clamp and remove them on that basis.

Parking where not permitted or for longer than permitted is a frustrating situation that affects many residents, hospitals and retailers nationally impacting the genuine users of those locations. 

However, most motorists do adhere to the rules with just three in 1,000 parking events on private land resulting in a parking charge notice. 

Importantly, it is essential that both parking charge and penalty charge levels are set at a sufficient levels to prevent antisocial and selfish parking. If they are too low people will simply ignore them or view it as a cheap days’ parking.

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