TOWING VEHICLES FROM YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY
You are a rental property owner and tenants have littered your private property with abandoned vehicles. Whether they’re operable and unregistered or inoperable and disabled, they don’t belong there. They become an eyesore for tenants and neighbors alike. They attract debris and rodents. They make leaf and snow removal more challenging than it needs to be. You own a residence, not a junkyard…the car(s) needs to go.
NEXUS’ BEST PRACTICES:
The first thing you’ll want to do is designate a towing agency. Contact a reputable local towing company to be your authorized agent. They’ll be your exclusive tower at your property should any issues arise.
Next, you’ll want to make and put up signs that clearly “remind” tenants of vehicle expectations. Note, we’ve used the word remind rather than notify because you’re an intelligent property owner and you’ve already established that “all vehicles on the property must be registered” by including it in your leases [ Free Nexus Tools: TENANT LEASE GENERATOR ]. These signs will include who your towing agent is and clearly state that all unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. This sign is simply a clear notification of the consequences for not meeting legal/contractual obligations. Per your lease (assuming you’ve included this piece), the tenant has the duty to maintain registration. They are not to use the driveway or parking area for car repairs.
[ Learn More: HOW TO HANDLE TENANT PARKING DISPUTES ]
THINKING ABOUT CONFLICTS:
If you’ve followed the steps above, you 100% have the right to tow without notice…but we don’t do that…and you shouldn’t either. Nexus Property Management® highly recommends providing a minimum notice of 72 hours. In that way, you provide some time for tenants to take corrective action or for you to learn more context about the situation. Maybe they’re in the process of getting the vehicle registered and the plates are in the mail. Maybe they’re selling the vehicle. Maybe it’s already scheduled to be towed to a repair shop tomorrow…who knows? If there is a plan, it is in everyone’s best interest that you give that time frame to learn of or allow for tenant action before having their vehicle towed. Conflict is inevitable but limiting its intensity whenever possible is well worth the effort. You could tow as soon as there’s an infraction, but the issues with that tenant will soon escalate even further. Again, always AVOID UNNECESSARY CONFLICTS.
That being said, if it’s still there three days later and there’s no news that satisfies you, get that car out of there. You’ve given them a three day window and an opportunity. There’s nothing more you can do. Call your towing agent and tow the vehicle.
[ Learn More: BEST PRACTICES FOR DEALING WITH TENANT CONFLICTS ]
Outside of potential conflict, towing a tenant's car will come at no charge to you. Here’s how it’ll go: The truck will come and tow the vehicle to their lot. The tenant will know from your signs, or additional contact from the tower, where their vehicle is located. The tenant will go pick it up and the tower will hand them a bill. Financially, this is not your problem and you’re not involved.
[ Learn More: WHY LANDLORDS SHOULD NEVER ACCEPT CASH ]
As a private property owner, you are ultimately in charge and it is important to use that authority and power responsibly. As usual, your taking smart steps before a conflict arises will make said conflict much easier to navigate when it does pop up. Be sure to have language in your lease that establishes vehicle expectations. Depending on your location, parking can be a very hot commodity and you want all details and rules to be explicit. If you don’t have signs posted or haven’t established a towing agent, you’ll still want to give three days notice and follow the steps outlined above…you’ll just have more work on the backend.
WHAT OTHER PEOPLE ARE READING:
- ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT TENANT SECURITY DEPOSITS
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- CASH IN ON YOUR PROPERTY’S EQUITY BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE
Mick Lefort is the Vice President of Operations for Nexus Property Management®. A National Property Management Franchise that manages all types of rental property from single family homes or condos to large apartment buildings and complexes.
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