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Using private car parks

When you enter a private car park, you are entering into a contract with the operator and agreeing to a set of terms and conditions.

Fees and charges

Private car park operators may set their own fees and charges. You should check the terms and conditions as well as the cost before using a private car park.

An operator may issue a payment notice if you breach the terms or conditions of the contract.

Payment notices or demands for payment are not fines. Only governments or courts can issue fines.

To enforce the payment notice, the operator would have to:

  • take action through the courts
  • justify their breach of contract claim with evidence
  • secure a ruling that you did not meet the terms and conditions of the contract.

Disputing payment notices

If you have received a payment notice and wish to dispute it, you should contact the car park operator and explain:

  • your intention not to pay
  • the reasons you won’t be paying.

If the matter remains unresolved, you should seek independent legal advice.

Ignoring a payment notice is not recommended.

Misleading terms and conditions

Under the Australian Consumer Law, car park operators cannot make misleading claims or use unfair contract terms in standard-form consumer contracts.

Private car park contract terms and conditions should be:

  • fair
  • transparent
  • in plain English.

If you encounter misleading car park signage—for example, if a sign says the maximum cost is $200 and you are charged $250—you should make a complaint.