Nearly every HOA has parking rules. And almost every HOA has those rules broken at times. Parking conflicts aren’t even limited to HOAs—they are pretty standard everywhere! Sometimes you have no option but to tow the vehicle breaking the rules. Towing vehicles can bring complications. We’ll go over what to look out for and keep the process as smooth as possible for everyone involved.
Check State and Local Laws
First, like so many things regarding HOAs, the state might regulate what the association is required and what they may not do regarding towing. And state laws can be very different. For instance, one state has pretty broad guidelines. They say parking signs need to have precise information — when parking is permitted and the fees. Another state is particular about what an HOA must do. They require associations to post parking guidelines at every entrance to the neighborhood. If someone breaks the rules, a notice has to be placed on the car, and if in 96 hours the car has not been moved, it may be towed. It does not just state that it might regulate HOA towing. You also should find out if your local governments have rules and stay within those.
Laws can also be different regarding deeded spaces, assigned spaces, and parking stickers. So it’s essential to know and follow your state and local laws. You might be able to find a towing company that follows state law, which would save you time.
Hiring a Towing Company
Before you even go down this road, make sure you need a towing company on the contract. If there have only been one or two problems, it is probably not worth it. If there are frequent violations of the rules, that’s another story. Hiring one or more companies is needed.
Just like any vendor you hire, make sure the towing company has the necessary licenses and insurance. The board is ultimately responsible for removing what someone’s property is. Hence, you want to make sure the company you hire is legitimate.
And like any other vendor, the HOA should have a written agreement with any towing company they hire. The contract should include pricing and which fees you will not pay for — sometimes towing companies impose fees on the association after the towing has already taken place. The agreement should also include indemnification for the association. If the towing company violates any laws, the HOA could be fined. Indemnification means the company is obligated to pay the association back for any fees the HOA received because of the towing company’s illegal actions…
The minimum notice that will give parking violators is an integral part of the contract too. Beware of zealous towing companies because some companies become tow happy. Having tow companies like this can make Homeowners very unhappy. You can decide what your written agreement states as far as how proactive the towing company can be. Exceptions to minimum notice would be blocking a fire lane or hydrant.
If a company is hired, make sure you remind all parking rules residents and explain what the towing rules are. You want any towing to be legal and necessary. And the company’s information should be clearly posted on all parking signs.
How much notification you want to give parking violators is up to each board. Some HOAs provide the towing company free reign, and some require 12 hours’ notice before towing can occur. This is one area your state or local laws may regulate.
If notification is part of your towing policy, you have to figure out what the towing request needs to contain. There might be conflicts about whether the car should have been towed, so having written requests helps protect the board.
If there aren’t laws about towing requests, the details are up to you. Many towing recommendations by HOAs include:
- Why the vehicle was towed, specifically;
- All of the vehicle’s identification details, like the make, model, vehicle identification number, and license plate number;
- Information about who authorized the tow — name, signature, job title, residential or business address, and working telephone number;
- From the time when the vehicle is first observed parked at an illegal spot.
Most of this article has been about parking problems because they are the most common reason for HOA boards to tow vehicles. But towing might also be necessary for old, deteriorating vehicles considered “unsightly.” Remember that taking care of these vehicles protects the rest of the community and maintains the standards residents expect.
Before you take that action, yes, you guessed it – check your bylaws. Some HOA rules require any vehicle to be properly registered. If they are truly nonfunctioning, they will not be able to. If a car is in terrible shape – missing doors, missing tires, rusted through, you won’t want to wait for their tags to expire (if they even have tags). Make sure your bylaws regulate this type of vehicle so you can remove them as soon as possible.
Other Reasons to Tow
Your HOA probably has rules about parking trailers, boats, or other large vehicles on the property. If these rules are violated, towing might be an option for you. HOAs have exceptions, such as allowing RVs to stay in a driveway for even the yard for a certain amount of time.