Parking Stickers and getting unauthorized cars towed?

4 Replies

Got a 4plex...the tenants are only allowed to park their cars there. If I issued parking stickers to the tenants (who are on the lease) who have cars registered under their name...when can I get the cars that do not have parking stickers towed? If they are their overnight can I get them towed or should I wait a certain number of hours? The kicker is I was made aware recently that there is a person their that is living their that is not on a lease...rather than serve a 7 day I thought about doing the parking thing first. Thanks

You'd have to have some way to monitor this...also what if somebody has a guest over for a few hours, are you going to tow that person?

If somebody is living in a unit and is not on the lease I would address that. That is your real issue, not the parking. If you address the real issue the parking thing should work itself out.

@Tyler Smiarowski Parking stickers and towing won't get rid of an undocumented tenant... they'll just park around the corner or across the street.

Get rid of the person first, then issue stickers or tags to the residents and their cars. Call a towing company in the area, they may have a sign that you can put up in the lot. They'll drive by every so often and enforce parking for you.

At least in California, the warning that unauthorized parkers may be towed needs to be posted. There is usually a municipal statute. Usually a local towing company will provide you with these signs for free. The towing company is happy to provide this because you become a new customer. You pay nothing - the guy who gets his car towed pays the towing company.

Be careful, this is a pretty aggressive tactic. You need to provide notice to all tenants by mail and you may need to do a formal 'change of terms' of your lease if the tenants have not already provided you with a license plate number associated with their lease.

As others have said, you are better off solving your 'real' problem of an unofficial tenant through normal channels.

Is this person really a risk to your business? Do you perceive them to be a threat to other residents? Unless they have given you some reason to be concerned, I would start by asking for that person to apply to be added to the lease. Then you can credit and background check them. This also puts the ball in the tenant's court as opposed to you 'proving' that the person is an unofficial resident and not a frequent guest. You otherwise need to make sure you document the comings-and-goings of this person in case you get pushed into court.

Courts could lean in favor of the tenant exercising normal day-to-day living. Landlords don't really get to decide which tenants have a sleepover boyfriend/girlfriend. It's a risk in providing housing to anyone.

Your first concern should be the unauthorized occupant. If a guest overstays what is allowed by your guest policy, or another person just moves in, their status could change from unauthorized occupant to tenant under the eyes of the law if their occupancy is long enough and meets certain criteria. Check your local laws for more information on that.

About the unauthorized parking, there are some strategies you could use that will put you at odds with your tenants and others that will guide your tenants to follow your established parking policy. Choose the latter.

Here is what we do. We have an eight-plex with a shared parking lot. It is reserved for tenants only and each tenant is allowed one space and must notify us of their vehicle information and keep us updated if it should change. We do not issue parking stickers, as it is a small property and we know our tenants' vehicles. Our parking policy is clearly stated in our rental agreement and explains we can tow unauthorized vehicles at the vehicle owner's expense. We maintain a contract with a local towing company who gave us official towing signage to post that is compliant with local law. We also have a large sign that says "Absolutely No Guest Parking. Unauthorized Vehicles Will Be Towed."

When there is a violation, we first attempt to locate the vehicle owner and the tenant who allowed them to park there, ask them to move their car immediately and remind them of the parking policy. If we can't locate them at the time, or if it is late at night, we photograph the car and put an "Unauthorized Parking Warning" slip on the windshield and check back in the morning. The "Unauthorized Parking Warning" states our parking policy and instructs the owner to move the vehicle immediately or it will be towed.

If there is a second breach of the parking rules, in addition to the "Unauthorized Parking Warning", we serve a legal notice about the lease violation to the tenant associated with the unauthorized vehicle.

Third time, we serve a legal notice to the tenant associated with the unauthorized car and we initiate towing. We do not have an automatic towing contract with the tow company, as that could lead to more trouble and more expense if a vehicle was towed by mistake. Instead, if we want a vehicle towed, we make the call and stay until the tow truck arrives.

We've only had to call the tow company twice. Interestingly enough, both times we cancelled before the tow truck arrived as the owners moved their vehicles just in time. Once it was in the middle of the night and we discovered a person sleeping in a van that was parked in another tenants parking space! Another time, after the tow truck was on the way the car owner appeared. We told them they were not authorized to park there, it is a repeat violation and we have already called the tow truck. The visitor looked dumbfounded and then shyly asked us if they could at least take some of their personal items out of the car before it gets towed.... the tow truck hadn't even arrived yet! I said, "If I were you, I would move your car to the street before the tow truck arrives". It hadn't occurred to them that was an option, problem solved!

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