Car Towed The Ghost Town of Bodie, California
The Ghost Town of Bodie, California

Was Your Car Towed From Private Property? Know Your Rights

Sometimes you can find yourself in a rush and forced to park ASAP. Maybe you simply didn’t see the ‘No Parking’ or ‘Handicap Parking Zone’ sign. Many of us have found ourselves returning to where we parked our car, only to find out that we’ve had our car towed away in our absence.

This can prove to be quite a nuisance, and in some cases may even entail legal proceedings which can cost you both time and money. If you find yourself car-less on private property, you need to know your rights and how to approach the situation. 

This article will outline the big picture surrounding private property towing and will act as a general guide as to how you should deal with such an occurrence. 

What Is Private Property towing?

Private property towing is commonplace on both commercial or residential properties all over the US, under certain circumstances of course. If you as a vehicle owner knowingly or mistakenly park on private property without proper consent or in a forbidden zone, you place yourself at risk of getting your car towed away at your expense. 

This can occur in residential driveways, unmarked private parking lots, or commercial parking lots that utilize dedicated or no-parking zones amongst other situations where parking laws can come into play legally. Whether you’re the owner of private property or a vehicle owner, it’s equally important to understand the intricacies of private property towing and what they entail. 

How To Proceed If Your Car Has Been Towed?


The first step to take if you find yourself in such a situation would be identifying what your local laws and regulations regarding towing on private property are. Say for example you’re in Houston, Texas. You should search what laws and regulations for vehicle towing in Houston, Texas exist and then proceed accordingly. This will help ensure that you know what your rights are and whether or not any proceedings or fees against you are in fact legal. 

As is the case with any public property towing, your permission is not in any way necessary when your car is getting towed away off private property. As per common law, a towing company cannot legally refuse to release your vehicle until you pay the fees you’ve incurred. 

If necessary, you should call the police to get your vehicle back, since this is a matter that falls under civil jurisdiction. Some towing companies may choose to raise legal action, but it’s very rarely the case. 

On the other hand, if your car was ticketed first and then towed by the HTA or under the local authority, then you will almost definitely need to pay any pending fees before the permission for the release of your vehicle is granted. 

When ticketed in this fashion, it’s important to check that the ticket you have been given is issued under the Provisional Offenses Act and not an impostor ticket issued by a private company. 

Private parking tickets, on the other hand, require a small claims court in order for them to legally oblige you to pay any pending fees. In the case that an independent collection agency tries to contact you for payment, be sure to let them know, preferably in writing, that the charge they wish for you to incur is disputed. 

Preemptive Measures 

Though dealing with your car getting towed isn’t the most complicated of issues to solve, it’s even wiser to be careful and vigilant when parking on private property. That way you can avoid getting your car towed away and incurring any costs that come along with it together. 

Always look for proper signage or parking meters on the property before parking. If you can’t see any, it’s never a bad idea to ask the owner or a local resident about the best place to park your car if you’re not sure whether you will be in the wrong or not. Another good option would be to look for any available parking spaces near the property you wish to visit, say a public parking garage or public street parking.  

Another helpful tip is to make sure that your car is never blocking or obstructing a driveway, sidewalk, fire lane or just obstructing traffic. Following these tips will help you to avoid any inconveniences caused by getting your car towed.

Ultimately, getting your car towed is something none of us would like to deal with, so knowing your rights is vital. Even more so, being aware of your local and country-wide regulations is essential if you are to avoid finding yourself in a sticky situation to begin with.