£60 parking fine destroyed my dream of owning a home! Driver who fought penalty notice rather than pay claims he now can’t get a mortgage because legal battle ruined his credit rating
- Mark White says he went through hell fighting legal battle over £60 parking fine
- Mr White, from Plymouth, parked in a hotel car park but did not tell reception
- Due to effect on his credit score, Mr White says he was unable to get a mortgage
- He’s warning others with parking fines to just pay up and not take fight to courts
A driver has claimed his life was ruined after his plans to buy a home were dashed by a £60 parking fine.
Mark White, 34, of Plymouth, Devon, says he went through hell and back fighting a legal battle which at one stage destroyed his credit rating.
Because of the effect on his credit score, Mr White says he is unable to get a mortgage after a debt recovery order was attached to his name.
Mark White, of Plymouth, fought a legal battle which at one stage destroyed his credit rating
Now he wants to warn other people who get parking fines to just pay up, claiming that the risk of the legal battle is not worth it.
Mr White said: ‘If I had known at the time what would happen, I would have paid the fine from the outset. If I had that chance again, I would have paid it off.
‘It’s not worth the stress or hassle. It’s how the law works – you park in a private car park and you have to pay. The courts aren’t bothered – it’s a simple contract.’
Mr White’s misery unfolded on August 24, 2016 when he went to a business meeting and parked in a hotel’s privately operated car park and went inside.
What Mr White did not realise was he needed to record his car registration details at reception in return for a free parking session.
He later received a £60 fine in the post courtesy of Civil Enforcement Ltd on the basis he had not followed the rules.
Mr White parked in a hotel’s privately operated car park in Plymouth but did not realise he needed to record his car registration details at reception in return for a free parking session
He appealed, arguing signs at the car park did not make clear what drivers had to do and filed pictures as evidence.
But Mr White lost his case, and an independent body also ruled in Civil Enforcement’s favour, arguing the onus was on him to have checked what the rules.
What is a credit score and how do you improve it?
A credit score is made up of three digits and puts a numerical figure on the likelihood of being accepted for credit.
Credit, or money that is borrowed, can come in many forms: credit cards, store cards, personal loans, overdrafts, mortgages, mobile phone contracts, utility bills, as well as paying for something in monthly instalments.
Credit scores are based on a person’s credit report, or credit file, which is a record of how credit has been handled in past financial history.
The credit report will not include any data on salary, student loans, medical history, criminal record, council tax arrears, parking or driving fines.
Experian rate a good credit score as over 880 out of 999, Equifax, 420 out of 700 and Callcredit, 4 out of 5.
Here’s how to improve your credit score:
1. Check credit file: Ensure all details are correct and ask the lender to remove any misinformation if necessary.
2. Reconsider joint accounts: When becoming financially linked with another person, a bad credit rating can affect another if joint accounts are held.
3. Register to vote: Making sure the electoral roll has the correct address is vital for credit agencies to check that the customer is who they say they are. ‘
4. Cancel unused cards: Unused credit cards, store cards and mobile phone contracts should be closed because lenders consider access to credit as well as owed debt.
5. Pay bills on time: It can take up to six years for a missed or late payment to be cleared off of a credit file so direct debits should be used where possible.
6. Pay off debt: Paying off more than the minimum can work in favour of the customer and shows that they are good at managing debt.
The fine went up to £100 – but he still refused to pay.
Mr White added: ‘At the time, the opinion online about these firms were all different.
‘These are just private companies, just ignore it, was what I was hearing from people. You can just call their bluff and allow them to take you to court.
‘So I said to Civil Enforcement, I’m not prepared to pay this fine, take it to court and I will deal with the courts as opposed to you. I didn’t hear anything back from them.
‘It was another two years before anything else occurred. In November, last year, I was trying to get in a position to buy my own house.
‘I was going through the finances when it was confirmed that my credit score was going to be updated.
‘When I checked, it had dropped substantially and there was a County Court Judgement and a £300 plus charge against my name.’
Mr White discovered Civil Enforcement had continued sending requests for payment to his old address, but after receiving zero response, got the courts involved.
‘I took a significant drop in my credit score, I was now unable to open up a new line of credit with anyone and at that time my hopes of buying a house were gone,’ he said.
Mr White said it then became a mad scramble trying to lift the order against him and settle the case once and for all.
‘I had nothing, no paperwork, nothing,’ he said. ‘I was going in blind, trying to find anything about the case.
‘I eventually tracked it down – I knew that if you can provide evidence that you didn’t get the paperwork then you have grounds of another appeal.
‘So I had to go through all the motions of that, stuff going back and forth with the courts.’
Another court hearing was due for later this year, but the entire episode was finally dropped this summer after Mr White reached a deal with Civil Enforcement Ltd.
‘I had a really good chance of getting rid of the CCJ (at appeal) so I told them I would give them £100 – and they accepted that; case closed.’
But Mr White says the emotional impact of fighting and defending himself was huge.
‘It went on, for a long time – it was really stressful,’ he said. ‘I spent entire days off work sorting the paperwork – the stress of it was huge.
‘It really, really affected me. I had a family member helping me with it all. It was just horrible. It took a very long time before we got to the point where they closed the case.’