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Private Property Towing Question-- California

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  • Private Property Towing Question-- California

    I just have a quick question about a situation that my sister has run into at the apartment complex she lives at.

    I don't know much about the private property and towing laws here in CA, so I decided to ask you guys for some help.

    A few months ago her car stopped running well, so she let the registration expire, and it has not left the private property of the apartment complex since then. (I know, her fault already, should have kept it registered). The apartment complex has no assigned parking spaces, so the residents have to just find spots wherever they can. She moved her car once in a while so that they would not tow it thinking it was abandoned.

    Their policy states that cars parked there need to be registered, but that they will also give 48 hrs. notice in the form of a warning sticker if they are going to tow the car. Her car was towed because the stickers showed that it was out of reg, but she had checked it the day before, and there was no warning notice on the car.


    She paid the $300 to have the car towed back, but she is now in a battle with the owners of the complex to be reimbursed for that money. I am just wondering if they are responsible for this because they never gave the warning notice, or if they can go against their policy being on private property. Thanks.

  • #2
    Well, first question is where is this "policy" posted or written? Was it in the lease agreement she signed, making it a binding contract with the owner/operator of the property?

    Next question, who towed it? Did the appartment owner/operator have it towed by a private company where he signed for its removal? Or did the local police do the towing?

    How is the parking lot marked regarding the parking/towing rules?

    Sounds like she is going to be in small claims court to get her $300 back...
    Carpe Noctem

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    • #3
      California Vehicle Code section 22658(a)(2) requires that 96 hours elapse between the notice of violation and when the vehicle can be towed. 22658(e)(1) VC makes the property owner/association liable for double the towing charges for violating 22658(a)(2).
      Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

      I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq

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      • #4
        Thanks guys. I will go look up those codes in my big fat code book, quote them, and send them off to her to present to the manager. It was towed by a private towing company hired by the management. I knew they could tow it, but I also thought that they had to give notice. Thanks for confirming.
        Last edited by TheOrteganator; 05-08-2007, 11:58 AM.

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        • #5
          Sorry for the double post but...

          I'm wondering what kind of action should be taken.

          Obviously her first step is going to be to try and settle it by just talking with the manager of the complex, but assuming that that doesn't work what should be the next course of action?

          I think it's a civil matter, so no police involvement I'm guessing. So if they don't agree to pay her, would the next course of action be small claims court?

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          • #6
            Sorry for posing once again in a row here, but I'm wondering what she should do next.

            After she presented the excerpt from the vehicle code to them, the agreed to pay her back for her costs, but not the double her costs that she is granted by that section of the vehicle code.

            Can she still take them to small claims court for the other half, and do you think that would be successful? Or by accepting a payment did she void that possibility?

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            • #7
              Just a thought...I don't live in California, so I couldn't provide your legal course of action. However, my thought is this...If the registration expiration date is displayed on the license plate, then any Joe Shmo can see the registration is expired, right?. I have seen many license plates appear to be expired (i.e. sticker), but actually weren't because the owner forgot to simply place the new sticker on the plate, and that was only confirmed through my computer. So, having said this, how did the management know the registration was actually expired? How did management confirm the actual expiration? Might be something to think about...

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              • #8
                I agree with that entirely. In my PD, before we pull over any car for expired stickers, we run it first to make sure it actually is expired. To the best of my knowlege, the management doesn't have access to that confidential information, at least they had better not!

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