By Christopher J. Hanlon, Esq.
The new Predatory Towing Act which became effective October 18, 2008 prohibits non-consensual towing, including towing of motor vehicles from private properties (your community) without the consent of the owner or operator of the vehicle, except in compliance with the Act.
The Act requires either the consent of the vehicle owner (which consent might be secured in a lease or rules and regulations) or towing only after the posting of a sign “in a conspicuous place at all vehicular entrances to the property. . .no smaller than 36” high and 36” wide,” which lists all of the following:
1. The purpose for which parking is authorized;
2. That unauthorized parking is prohibited and no authorized vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense;
3. The name, address and telephone number of the towing company;
4. The charge for towing which will not exceed the fee specified in the tariff which is on file with the Director (filed there by the towing contractor) for both the towing and storage of the towed motor vehicle; and
5. The street address of the storage facility where the towed vehicles can be redeemed by payment of the posted charges and times when redemption is possible.
In addition, no towing company may remove the motor vehicle without the written authorization of the property owner (or presumably an authorized representative) who must be present at the time of removal.
It is recommended that each lease now contain a generic authorization for towing of any car owned by any tenant who signs a lease. Since the consent must be provided by the vehicle owner, it would also be advisable to have a consent signed by any authorized occupant. However, lacking any such signed consent from any other person who might own a car parked on your property, considering the likelihood that such signatures might not be obtained from guests or other visitors, and the possible uncertainty concerning vehicle ownership under any circumstance, any property owner who wishes to maintain the option of towing unauthorized vehicles or vehicles parked in unauthorized areas from the premises (as opposed to enforcing parking regulations through eviction measures) should comply with the law by hanging appropriate the sign, which is in compliance with the guidelines set forth above where required by the law.
For more information about New Jersey’s Predatory Towing Act, please contact Christopher J. Hanlon at firstname.lastname@example.org/.