This parking space is mine. So why are you using it?
September 4, 2009 8:01 AM   Subscribe

I have a parking space allocated to my flat in West London. Someone else keeps parking there, and ignoring all signs. How do I "persuade" that person to stop parking there?
posted by almostwitty to Travel & Transportation around London, England (46 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You don't. You talk to the local authorities and they get ticketed and towed.
posted by infodiva at 8:02 AM on September 4, 2009

The first step is usually a polite but threatening note on their windshield.

If they ignore that, in comes the tow truck. Your building manager/landlord will probably be happy to take care of that for you.
posted by drjimmy11 at 8:04 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Definitely not your responsibility to enforce this. Call your landlord each and every time until they sort it out.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:08 AM on September 4, 2009

Yes, the reason you pay rent is so that someone else will provide the space. They are currently not doing so. Contact them about it.

But if you're really pissed off, just call a tow truck.
posted by OmieWise at 8:13 AM on September 4, 2009

Park in it. Or park something in it. Cones, etc. If you don't have a car, perhaps you could sublease it to them on the sly.
posted by wackybrit at 8:17 AM on September 4, 2009

If you lived in Boston, you'd already know. (Lawn chair, my friend. Lawn chair).
posted by at 8:17 AM on September 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for your suggestions!

A polite/threatening note was left on the windshield. It's been taken off.

The "landlord" of the area has not enforced any parking restrictions, mainly because most of the residents have had dodgy experiences with exuberant clamping companies.

The police/local authorities won't get involved as it's not in a public space... (although the police have indicated it's a car belonging to a resident of the same street ... and I've had dealings with them before alas)
posted by almostwitty at 8:18 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Surely leaving a cone or lawnchair on there would just mean they'd remove said cone/lawnchair from the parking space?
posted by almostwitty at 8:18 AM on September 4, 2009

Contact one of the exuberant towing/clamping companies, if your landlord won't. It sounds like they would happily take care of the car.

Alternately, call your landlord a few times a day until he takes care of it. If you become more of a nuisance (to him) than the car being in the spot, he'll get the car out of the spot.
posted by mikepop at 8:22 AM on September 4, 2009 [7 favorites]

Call the landlord, wait thirty minutes and call a towing company.

...however, you will very quickly need written evidence that the spot is exclusively yours, or there will be trouble.
posted by aramaic at 8:27 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Maybe speak to the other residents to petition the landlord to install electronic bollards? I mean the kind that lower down if you have the right key, but otherwise block the parking space. It's an extreme and probably expensive solution, but if other people are having similar problems and hate the clampers, it might be looked kindly upon.
posted by ukdanae at 8:32 AM on September 4, 2009

My sister lives in an apartment in downtown Charleston, SC. The entire city is full of tourists and the slightly related specious known as tourons and finding parking is a giant pain in the ass. They told her to call the police or a towing comapny. Since that's obviously not working for you I have a few slightly crazy ideas.

A lot of the docks around Charleston have doors on them. I thought it was a bit silly until I realized that it kept people who didn't own the doc off of it. Would it be possibly for you to construct something that couldn't be removed easily that could essentially lock cars out of the space?

Also, I agree with talking to the landlord. Maybe part of the problem is that you don't currently own a vehicle that you park there. It might be a good idea to tell the landlord that you're looking into buying a car but you want to know that your parking space will be available when you buy it.
posted by theichibun at 8:33 AM on September 4, 2009

Response by poster: @ukdanae - Apparently the landlord has installed electronic bollards at his other estates, only to find people vandalising them.
posted by almostwitty at 8:38 AM on September 4, 2009

If the landlord fails to enforce this for you it may be a breach of the lease.
posted by caddis at 8:40 AM on September 4, 2009

Back in Philly, I had a neighbor who, if someone had left their car in front of his house without moving it for two weeks, would take the plates off of their car and call the city to report an abandoned vehicle. It worked.
posted by Jon-o at 8:45 AM on September 4, 2009 [8 favorites]

and if you want it legal and effective you could try these :
posted by 3mendo at 8:46 AM on September 4, 2009

Instead of blocking him out, can you block him *in*? I have no idea how to do that easily, but surely somebody has a better idea. Leave you phone number with a note that he'll have to call if he wants to get out. When he does call, take your sweet time getting there, maybe with a couple of big guy friends to keep you company.

Or just call a tow company, which essentially accomplishes the same thing, but with less confrontation on your part.
posted by cgg at 8:46 AM on September 4, 2009

I live in a converted house with two parking spaces out back. When one space got rented, another tenant quickly claimed the one remaining space. She didn't have a car, and she hardly ever had visitors.. Nonetheless, it was HERS!!! Note that I have no idea if she ever actually paid rent on it or not.

On occasions people would park in her space, and we can debate the morality of that later. On some occasions though, people would pull into the space and sit in their car, waiting to pick up somebody, or letting the passenger unload some groceries. She would, if she was home to see it, come down and start yelling right away. The people are there, they know she has a prior claim to the space, and if she had a use for it at the time they would quickly get out of the way. That wasn't good enough for her though. I guess she liked the aesthetic of an empty parking space outside her overlooking window..

So.. Is it a single repeat offender? You'll do much better trying to come to an understanding with that individual, if it is. Hording resources that you don't use is always problematic. Flaunting your unused, unsecured, highly sought after resource in an open mostly public space is just not going to work very well.
posted by Chuckles at 8:54 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

When someone parks in our assigned space, my husband simply parks in front of the car, blocking them in, then calls the landlord who promptly calls a tow truck.

Like others have said, if your landlord isn't enforcing the parking policy you may have legal recourse. Talk to the landlord/owner again and then look into rental laws in your area.
posted by Sufi at 8:57 AM on September 4, 2009

Blocking them in isn't going to be a good option - sadly the blockee has more rights than the blocker in most cases and can damage your property to "escape."

It sounds like this is quite a tricky situation given your followup. I'd advise passive aggression. Do you ever park there at all? If not, it's time to "accidentally" leave tacks down, tar, or anything that could cause very minor damage or irritation. It's a bit like putting those sprays down so cats don't go in certain areas, except for humans :) (If you were really crazy about it, putting their windows in with an air gun from afar would be interesting, but I didn't advise that ;-))
posted by wackybrit at 9:01 AM on September 4, 2009

Response by poster: @Chuckles - I don't often use the space, so hence let people park there whenever. However, I did need it last weekend, left a polite note and the driver concerned picked up the note and didn't move their car.

And the one time I had a "discussion" with a neighbour (possibly the same one) who thought the space was his, I was told I smelled...
posted by almostwitty at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2009

I read your blog posts and it seems the issue is not merely rude people parking in your space, but then said rude people "fighting" for the space. This, alas, is modern urban Britain - a miserable place ruined by violent psychopaths. I'm not sure it's actually possible to "win" this unless you have the community behind you to put these people in check, but none of us know where community spirit disappeared to either.. Even if you get the space back, you can't really rest knowing someone isn't going to put in the windows of whatever you approve of parking there.
posted by wackybrit at 9:18 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

The police/local authorities won't get involved as it's not in a public space... (although the police have indicated it's a car belonging to a resident of the same street ... and I've had dealings with them before alas)

What the hell? Would they get involved if the same jerks decided they wanted your living room too? After all, that's not a public space either.
posted by crankylex at 9:33 AM on September 4, 2009

If the space is against a wall, you could perhaps try putting up a fake clamping company sign, that might scare some people off.
posted by malevolent at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2009

Mod note: A few comments removed. Problem-solving suggestions are fine, vengeance/vigilantism is not.
posted by cortex (staff) at 9:35 AM on September 4, 2009

(Is the space visible from your flat? Might be interesting to set up a webcam & blog and test the effectiveness of different suggestions)
posted by malevolent at 9:41 AM on September 4, 2009

A lawn chair will not work as it is too easily removed. But if you go buy or street scavenge an old heavy couch and put it there it will be a lot harder to remove. Also, maybe one of those letter sized stickers that say you are illegally parked affixed to the drivers window a few times will work. They are quite the pain to remove.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:42 AM on September 4, 2009

Best answer: Problem-solving suggestions are fine, vengeance/vigilantism is not.

and it would be an incredibly bad idea in this situation. These guys would know who it was and likely retaliate with more vengeance. You really want someone else to be the bad guy here, either the landlord or the cops.
posted by caddis at 9:52 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Call the tow/clamping companies. It seems they are the only ones who will respond to the actual problem, and perhaps an expensive clamp on the car will scare the parking space thief off.
posted by cmgonzalez at 9:54 AM on September 4, 2009

Best answer: I don't often use the space, so hence let people park there whenever.

Here's the problem - you're not sending consistent messages. If it's ok for them to park there most days, how are they supposed to know when it's not ok? Think of it like training a dog - if you always let the dog up on the couch but occasionally when company is over you re-assert the stay off the couch "rule", the dog is going to be confused and angry. I think you have to assert your ownership of this spot all the time, or never.
posted by gyusan at 10:11 AM on September 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

I don't often use the space, so hence let people park there whenever. However, I did need it last weekend

Can you make arrangements to rent your parking space to one person (at a low cost, with the trade-off being that you share parking privileges)? That way, your parking spot is no longer visibly open for strangers to park in AND you only have to deal with one person, whom you know, when you actually want to use the spot.

I think you're encountering this problem because you are (very generously) allowing others to use your parking space when you don't need it. It's a nice thing to do, but you run the risk of having people take advantage (as this person is doing) when you let absolutely anyone park there. Making exclusive arrangements with one person gives you more control over the situation.
posted by Meg_Murry at 10:20 AM on September 4, 2009

I'm not this brave, BUT since you're in the UK, you can buy your own wheel clamp from Argos if you're interested in taking a more pro-active stance. Note: this would mean having to talk to the car's owner when they come and ask for their car to be released :)
posted by mahke at 10:39 AM on September 4, 2009

Contact a local clamping company. You may be able to negotiate a deal by which you pay nothing and they reclaim the costs through a higher release fee. IANAL but you'll probably need to give the car owner prior warning and hold documented proof you have legal ownership of that space.
posted by mr_silver at 10:41 AM on September 4, 2009

Bill them by leaving a receipt under their windshield wipers. 60 pounds/day. Be sure to have some writing in there advising that parking in your space is agreement to be bound by that fee.

Then, when they don't pay, have the car repossessed for non-payment. Give them a 48 hour warning, just to be nice.
posted by jwells at 10:45 AM on September 4, 2009

Hmm Talk to your local authority. HEre i nm ytown in the US Its required BY LAW for each apartment to have one off street parking spot. So if somebody parks in yours you therfore dont have a spot and the landlord is actually disobeying the law.

See if this is the case by you. If it is let the landlord know this and tell him he has to get the car towed or you will notify your local authority that the landlord is disobeying the law.
posted by majortom1981 at 10:58 AM on September 4, 2009

I really do not have much experiences with this sort of thing, but I would like to point out that your blog has many relevant details which might have brought you some more helpful responses here if you had included them in the original question. Namely:

* you know who the likely culprits are
* they have already threatened to beat you up
* they have already cost you damages by scaring away someone else who wanted to rent your space.

Also, I still do not know after reading this post and your blog:

* whether you actually furnished this aggressive person with in-writing proof that you own the space-- he may not seem like he would care about this, but it strengthens your position greatly in any subsequent course of action involving courts or police
* how likely it is that he would actually be under the misapprehension that this is a generally available parking space, and not one specifically owned by you

Anyway, if you had already spoken to the cops about him parking there, but neglected to mention the threats to beat you up, that was a mistake. Always include all relevant information.

As to what to do, you may be able to sue civilly in a small-claims court over damages from scaring off your "tenant." And, I do not exactly know how this whole ASBO thing works in the UK, but I would hope that some judge would be able to slap him with some sort of
posted by Maxwell_Smart at 11:19 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

People aren't dogs, but I do agree that you need to assert your ownership strongly along with the generosity. It is a good thing to allow people to park there, but it is also important that you make sure they know it is at your convenience that they get to do so.

Given your earlier unsuccessful interaction with neighbours, I can see how this might be getting difficult. How certain are you that it is the same people? I mean, is it that same scooter every time, or whatever?

My parking anecdote up thread was obviously considerably easier to deal with, because there weren't that many apartments that might want to use the space. It sounds like you might have a whole street full of people eager to fill any empty spaces.
posted by Chuckles at 12:11 PM on September 4, 2009

Best answer: I read your blog post, and Maxwell makes good points, if it's a repeat problem with people who have threatened you, further contact with the police seems warranted.

Having said that, if this is a more generalized issue, you've probably heard the expression "possession is nine tenths of the law", right? Well, that's the problem. You own something but you aren't using it, and people that need to park in the area see that there's this desirable space that mostly sits vacant. This seems further compounded by the fact that the space isn't adjacent to where you live, and at least one person seems to have been unaware that it wasn't his place to park. A vacant spot in an area with limited parking is awfully tempting, and it probably starts innocuously enough ("I'll just park here five minutes while I pick up Dave") and eventually you get where you are now.

Get the person that ignored your note to leave, since plainly they're quite rude, whether it's via the police or a tow company. Then start using the space because if you don't you'll continue to have this problem. Maybe go to a sign shop and have a professional looking sign made that says "Parking £5/Day, £25/Week, Long Term Negotiable" with a convenient way to contact you listed (obviously adjust rates to whatever is appropriate). In the US this sign would also usually list the phone number for the tow company you use to have unauthorized vehicles towed, so I suggest that as well. That company can be whoever you get to tow the car this time, just talk to them about it.

You want to make it clear that this is a spot that is used by the actual and frequent presence of parked cars. Obviously, a long term parker is more desirable in this situation, although you do give up the convenience of being able to use it on the occasions you wish, without scheduling it with the parker. Given that you don't seem to be able to use it now at your convenience that may not be a huge loss. Advertise the space on Craigslist or wherever things like that would be listed locally.
posted by 6550 at 12:15 PM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I imagine tow truck companies will happily remove the vehicle if the space is yours, so ask the local tow truck companies.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:03 PM on September 4, 2009

You may not have luck with the tow companies unless you have authorization (you own the spot or your landlord gives you their secret code.) The companies I use for towing always ask for an authorization code.
posted by vespabelle at 2:08 PM on September 4, 2009

I would provide sufficient notice to the landlord that he is violating the lease by failing to provide parking space and notify him/her that if this is not corrected by a certain date you will begin escrowing your rent until the problem is solved. The solution maybe him repeatedly initiating towing/clamping, legally authorizing you to do so, improving physical security. I am not familiar with rental law in the UK but I would be surprised if he can punish you if you pay the rent into an authorized escrow account and clearly document the landlord's failure to uphold his end of the lease.
posted by rmhsinc at 4:06 PM on September 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks so much for your thoughts.

You'll be delighted that under confidential advice from the police, I basically started leaving notes in everyone's mailbox saying the car would be moved at the weekend. I started at the car itself, set off the car alarm and a woman from the flat opposite burst out screaming "What are you doing to my car?". Identification problem solved. (It's the neighbours of the people who I had trouble with last time, but I don't think they're actually related)

Of course, according to her, it's a valid visitors space for anyone to use (she had paper proof that seems to contribute my proof), and they've been using it for "5 years". Of course, I've been using that space up until six months ago (it's my car on the spot in Google Maps!). She claims her son left a note for me on the windshield, but I never saw it...

The story thickens - but thanks very much for your thoughts and ideas. Must get a lawnchair, a sign made, a lamppost to stick it to, and a chainsaw for emergencies...
posted by almostwitty at 4:06 PM on September 4, 2009

and maybe a fake fire hydrant?
posted by msconduct at 4:38 PM on September 4, 2009

Here is what happened to me years ago: I parked (apparently) in someone else's usual spot. First day nothing, second day I got a LARGE rock gingerly placed on a white piece of paper on the hood of my new car.

I got the message. YMMV.
posted by Parsnip at 12:49 AM on September 5, 2009 [1 favorite]

Modern urban Britain is not a miserable place ruined by violent psychopaths, and a neighbourhood dispute over a parking space does not make it so.

I suggest you sign up with a parking enforcement company. There are many that offer self ticketing packages. They give you signage to put up. You then take a photo of any offending car, put a ticket on the windscreen and notify the company. They then get money of the driver and give you a cut. Hopefully the official-looking sign will stop people abusing your space - if not, you should at least get some cash. Here is one such company found by a quick google.
posted by JonB at 9:41 AM on September 5, 2009

Modern urban Britain is not a miserable place ruined by violent psychopaths, and a neighbourhood dispute over a parking space does not make it so.

I take it you're lucky enough to live in an urban area where most disputes aren't settled by intimidation and feral chavs aren't on the loose, you know all your neighbours, and you have wonderful street parties every year to celebrate the Queen. Lucky you - there ain't many of 'em!
posted by wackybrit at 12:30 PM on September 5, 2009

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