No Legal Authority to Tow Vehicles from Apartment Complexes As How They are Parked

Towing companies should pay close attention to a case filed by TDLR Prosecutors reference the unauthorized towing from apartment complexes or parking facilities, as if you make these types of unauthorized tows, you will not prevail in Court.

You cannot tow a vehicle for: being double parked, parked across the line, backed into a parking space, tow a vehicle for being parked on the grass. Just because a tow company provides a tow sign with numerous parking restrictions, only certain violations can be enforced regardless what the sign states.

Sign Examples Being Unauthorized Reasons:

Occupations Code 2308.251 states:

(a) The owner or operator of a vehicle may not leave unattended on a parking facility a vehicle that:

(1) is in or obstructs a vehicular traffic aisle, entry, or exit of the parking facility;

(2) prevents a vehicle from exiting a parking space in the facility;

(3) is in or obstructs a fire lane marked according to Subsection (c);

(4) does not display the special license plates issued under Section 504.201, Transportation Code, or the disabled parking placard issued under Chapter 681, Transportation Code, for a vehicle transporting a disabled person and is in a parking space that is designated for the exclusive use of a vehicle transporting a disabled person; or

(5) is leaking a fluid that presents a hazard or threat to persons or property.

Occupations Code 2308.253 for Apartment Complexes states:

(a) This section applies only to a parking facility serving or adjacent to an apartment complex consisting of one or more residential apartment units and any adjacent real property serving the apartment complex.

(b) The owner or operator of a vehicle may not leave unattended on a parking facility a vehicle that:

(1) obstructs a gate that is designed or intended for the use of pedestrians or vehicles;

(2) obstructs pedestrian or vehicular access to an area that is used for the placement of a garbage or refuse receptacle used in common by residents of the apartment complex;

(3) is in or obstructs a restricted parking area or parking space designated under Subchapter G, including a space designated for the use of employees or maintenance personnel of the parking facility or apartment complex;

(4) is in a tow away zone, other than a fire lane covered by Section 2308.251(c), that is brightly painted and is conspicuously and legibly marked with the warning “TOW AWAY ZONE” in contrasting letters at least three inches tall;

(5) is a semitrailer, trailer, or truck-tractor, as defined by Chapter 502, Transportation Code, unless the owner or operator of the vehicle is permitted under the terms of a rental or lease agreement with the apartment complex to leave the unattended vehicle on the parking facility; or

(6) is leaking a fluid that presents a hazard or threat to persons or property.

(d) Except as provided by a contract described by Subsection (e), a parking facility owner may not have a vehicle removed from the parking facility merely because the vehicle does not display an unexpired license plate or registration insignia issued for the vehicle under Chapter 502, Transportation Code, or the vehicle registration law of another state or country.

(e) A contract provision providing for the removal from a parking facility of a vehicle that does not display an unexpired license plate or registration insignia is valid only if the provision requires the owner or operator of the vehicle to be given at least 10 days’ written notice that the vehicle will be towed from the facility at the vehicle owner’s or operator’s expense if it is not removed from the parking facility. The notice must be:

(1) delivered in person to the owner or operator of the vehicle; or

(2) sent by certified mail, return receipt requested, to that owner or operator.

(f) This section may not be construed:

(1) to authorize the owner or operator of a vehicle to leave an unattended vehicle on property that is not designed or intended for the parking of vehicles; or

(2) to limit or restrict the enforcement of Chapter 683, Transportation Code, the abandoned motor vehicle law.

(g) A provision of an apartment lease or rental agreement entered into or renewed on or after January 1, 2004, that is in conflict or inconsistent with this section is void and may not be enforced.

So it’s real simple, if you tow a vehicle without the vehicle owner or operator consent for anything other than stated above, expect to be sued, your accounts to be sued as well in a Small Claims Lawsuit for 404 Violations and TDLR complaints filed. We applaud TDLR Prosecutors for enforcing the law as written as the Legislature for the past 30 years have stated there is no other interpretation to the law in its context.

If you have any doubt, do not hesitate reading the PDF file below.

Download (PDF, 393KB)

Tow victims are encouraged to complete the Tow Victim Incident Report on this website so it can be forwarded to TDLR or one of the many recommended attorneys who will represent you in recovery your damages.

The tow sign example is provided to the tow industry to use as shown below, there are no other version of this statutory sign. Omitted verbiage, text or added text in quoted phrase constitutes an illegal sign making the tow unauthorized.

tow sign example

Should a vehicle owner choose to file the Request for Tow Hearing, it’s advisable to print the PDF file to show the Judge, so they are not easily influenced by the attorney representing the tow company or parking facility.

For vehicle owners or operators who discover damage to your vehicle as a result of towing and storage, under no circumstance fill out a tow company’s damage claim form, instead request their insurance information, if they refuse, file the TDLR complaint against the tow company for failure to provide it.

Law enforcement does not the authority to refuse the legislative mandate they enforce the Towing, Storage & Booting Law regardless if they lack a city ordinance, as State Law trumps a city ordinance.

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