Private parking enforcement business surges
Private companies enforcing parking restrictions are proliferating in the Helsinki region and in the rest of the country. Some of the players in the field feel that the intense competition is taking on unhealthy characteristics.
The boom was sparked by a decision by the Finnish Supreme Court in March, according to which parking enforcement by private companies is a legal activity.
Since then, at least 15 companies have been set up to monitor parking restrictions.
The threshold for setting up a company in the new field is low. Private parking enforcement does not require a licence of any kind.
“It is possible to start operations with as little as a company name and a website”, says Janne Översto, director of SuomiPark.
There is great variation in the size of the companies. MKM Park Service has one full time employee and four part-timers enforcing rules in private car parks, while ParkNet has 1,100 trained supervisors, according to the company’s website.
The large number of people working with ParkNet stems from the fact that it works together with private security companies, whose guards also write tickets for unauthorised parking.
“This kind of collaboration is causing an upheaval in private parking enforcement”, says Jarno Marjamäki director of contacts for ParkNet.
Today’s parking enforcement companies offer their clients different types of enforcement models.
In some cases the monitors make rounds of various parking areas, while others respond to calls reporting incorrect parking.
There is also an option of self-enforcement, in which the company trains a building’s resident or caretaker to supervise his or her own building.
“Competition among the companies is so intense, that I do not believe that any property owner will pay for ordinary enforcement. However, some companies do charge a fee for the signs that indicate that there is parking enforcement in the area”, says Tero Mukkula, director of one fo the companies APV.
One indication of the intensity of the competition is that some private parking enforcers have started to share the income from the penalty fees with their customers.
for instance, Parkkikontrolli gives owners of the properties five euros for each fee paid by the violators, while APV pays five per cent of income from the tickets.
Some of the companies are staunchly opposed to any sharing of revenue. “The activity is no longer profitable if we give a percentage of the fees to the customers. There is the danger that the business will compete itself to death”, laments Tero Kekki of MKM Park Service.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Supreme Court: Private parking control company has right to issue parking tickets (17.3.2010)
Private parking control firms may have to return levied fines (21.11.2008)
Jurists amazed at private parking control firms’ parking tickets (19.3.2010)