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Joshua
Joshua, Lawyer
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 25417
Experience:  LL.B (Hons), Higher Prof. Dip. Law & Practice
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I am living in a property managed by a housing association.

Resolved Question:

I am living in a property managed by a housing association. The property includes an underground car park where I am renting a spot to park my car.

In the past the housing association has sent residents renting a car spot a permit to be displayed on the car on an annual basis.

However, this year they failed to send a renewed permit despite my continued payment of the rent. As a consequence I accumulated several parking tickets issued by a parking company the housing association has appointed as I had not noticed that the permit had run out for several days.

The same thing happened to number of other residents. The housing association now tells us that it is our obligation to apply for a new permits every year and they refuse to either pay our fines or find some other solution with the parking service company they have appointed themselves.

I would argue that given that I have not been informed about any change in the practice of getting permits automatically, I am not liable for this fine.
Moreover, I think the whole arrangement is questionable as the car park can only be entered by paying residents with an appropriate fob.
However I am not sure if I have any legal leverage in this matter. Can you help?

Thanks
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.

Joshua :

Hello and thank you for your question. I will be very pleased to assist you. I'm a practicing lawyer in England with over 10 years experience.

Joshua :

Are there adequate signs in place advertising that permits must be displayed failing which tickets may be issued please?

Customer:

I think there is a small sign somewhere but I would have to double check. Am currently not at the property. Also several years back when they introduced this system they sent a letter saying we have to display the permits. However, for me the issue is that I did not have a permit to display because they failed to send one in time.

Joshua :

Thanks. From memory do you believe the signs are sufficient in number and large enough to be likely to be brought to the average users attention on entering the car park?

Customer:

certainly not...there is nothing at the entrance....the only sign I can remember is in small writing in a dark corner...

Customer:

but then the only people who can enter this car park are paying users who received a letter at some point saying that they have these controls...

Joshua :

Thanks. Private tickets used to be unenforceable if the registered keeper refused to identify the driver but that changed last year when the Protection of Freedoms Act outlawed clamping and provided enhanced measures for parking companies to enforce private tickets. The PoFA provides that if a registered keeper refuses to identify the driver within 28 days then the registered keeper is liable for the demand. However the Act has not authorised private parking firms to issue fines. These demands are still nothing better than invoices demanding payment for breach of contract - the contract is formed by the use of signs warning to display tickets/permits or risk a ticket (invoice) at the advertised rate.

Joshua :

Being a contract the ordinary rules of contract apply whereby they must prove that they displayed adequate signage to enable a driver parking there to know of the requirements; evidence of loss on their part as a result of the breach of contract and evidence that they have attempted to mitigate their loss.

Customer:

Well I would argue there is no loss on their part as I was not blocking a spot that they could have rented otherwise

Customer:

I was actually paying for the spot...

Joshua :

obviously, if you have not already done so, obtaining a permit from the housing association should be a priority in order to not receive further tickets however in respect of the tickets you have already received, you may wish to consider reverting to the parking company advising that you dispute the same on the basis of their failure to display adequate signage sufficient to be brought to the average user's attention requiring display of permits, that you pay housing association for parking and as such there is no loss on their part that can be demonstrated and that the housing association altered its procedures where by previously permits were sent automatically and now they are not without any notification and as such, there is a failure on their part to mitigate losses in respect of the charges claimed

Joshua :

as a consequence, you may consider advising that you will not be settling any of their invoices and should be wish to pursue the matter, they can consider issuing proceedings in the County Court which will be fully defended on the above basis together with a claim for costs on your part for attending the hearing assuming your defence is sucessful

Customer:

Ok....sounds like fun...

Customer:

I already have appealed and they have refused...the letter now said that I can appeal to some independent claims arbiter...guess that's what I will do...

Joshua :

in my experience, appeals ready succeed because ultimately these are private companies who are interested in profit from the tickets they issue. I have actually never heard of a private parking ticket appeal succeeding but then it is unlikely anyone would raise such circumstances with a lawyer so I do not suggest that no appeals ever succeed. However, as my the tickets are simply invoices, they have no basis to claim monies from you without judgement in the County Court which can be defended on the above basis. If you are unsuccessful, then they can seek payment of the court fee to issuing proceedings however as this is a Small Claims Court hearing, the court fee is low and legal fees cannot be claimed and therefore there is relatively limited risk in going to court particularly when one considers the alternative is to pay everything that is demanded

Joshua :

is there anything above I can clarify for you?

Customer:

Thanks that was very helpful

Joshua :

a pleasure. If I can assist any further as the situation develops please do no hesitate to let me know.

Customer:

Great thanks

Joshua :

If you have no further questions for now I should be very grateful if you would kindly take a moment to rate my service to you today. Your feedback is important to me. If there is anything else I can help with though please reply back to me though.

Joshua and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Joshua,


 


I have two follow up question regarding the matter you answered me last week.


 


1. In the letter I received from CPP (the company managing the car park on behalf of the housing association) they say I can appeal against their rejection of my appeal by writing to POPLA the independent appeals service. Do you think that is the best course of action or are there other (better) ways to contest the cahrge?


 


2. In the same car park my car as well as other residents cars were broken into many times with an escalation in recent months. The police suggests that the best course of action would be to ensure that the gate that leads from the underground car park to the street level closes automatically. At the moment it is always open possibly because there is a mechanical defect. This has been pointed out by residents for the first time about 5 years ago and management promised to look into it.


Moreover, while there is CCTV in the car park it only covers a small area and when something happens both the housing association and the police say that they don't have the resources to look at any footage.


In total the damages for only myself from this amount to more than 1000 pounds and I really would like to something about this. There is also a safety issue if criminals are regularly operating in a dark confined underground car park. However, my licence agreement for renting the car park has the following clause:


 


"Notwithstanding any supervision given or approval expressed by the Licensor to be responsible for and to release and indemnity the Licensor its servants or agents from and against all liability for loss or damage to property and any other loss damage cost and expenses which may arise in connection with the Licensee's use of the Car Park howsoever such injury loss damage costs or expenses may arise whether by the negligence of the Licensor its servants or agents or otherwise."


 


This sounds like a pretty strong clause that would rule out any compensation by One Housing group despite their complete mis-management of the car park. I wonder however if they can write a strong clause like that in an agreement such as this, particularly as they have an arrangement with the local council (Tower Hamlets) that says that residents are not eligible to get a normal resident's parking permit to park in the street.


 


Thanks for your help in advance.


 


Best


 


Ralf

Expert:  Joshua replied 3 years ago.
POPLA is not an independent party but represents the interests of private parking companies. I do not have quantitative evidence as regards to the outcomes of their appeals though the direct experience I have of their so-called appeals process amounts to little more than their rubberstamping be parking companies decision. However, I freely acknowledge that it is unlikely I'm exposed to scenarios where a decision has gone in favour of the person appealing because it is unlikely such an individual would contact a lawyer. My general view however is that a party that represents the interests of private parking companies is unlikely to be the best individual to determine such a matter as there is an inherent conflict-of-interest.

There is no obligation to use POPLA - remember that the parking ticket is nothing more than an invoice.

with regards to the gate, if the gate is supposed to close and stopped functioning, the housing association has a duty to put it right. If they do not, you can consider complaining to the Housing ombudsman if complaints to the housing association fail.

with regards to the CCTV, it is not possible to force the housing association to expand the system directly however, if more than 50% of you as residents in the building wished to do so, you can exercise a statutory right to manage yourselves and force the housing association to hand over management functions in relation to maintenance and upkeep and so on which would enable you to collectively expand the CCTV system and manage the system yourself.

If you wish to pursue this, you will need to obtain agreement from at least 50% of the residents and seek local surveyor to assist you in the right to manage process. There is no fee payable to the housing association for taking over management however you will have to cover legal costs of doing so which of course can be shared by all interested parties