Santa Clara Real Estate Lawyer: Dealing With Abandoned Vehicles

It can happen in almost any neighborhood: One day you notice that there’s a car, truck, or RV (usually an old one) that’s been in the same spot on the street for what seems like forever.  It’s an eyesore, it’s taking up a valuable parking spot, and if it’s in front of your house you are doubly inconvenienced.  What can you do?

If you live on a public road, there is probably an abandoned vehicle ordinance that applies.  Each city or county has its own rules, but typically a vehicle that hasn’t moved in 72 hours may be considered abandoned.  If you report such a vehicle, it will usually be tagged first, then towed if it hasn’t been moved in the appropriate amount of time.

When you report a vehicle, be prepared to give the make, model, and license plate number, as well as the location (and how long it has been there).  You should also be aware that “moving” a vehicle can mean as little as it being driven 1/10 of a mile, even if it’s re-parked in the same place.  The ordinances are designed to address abandoned vehicles, not ones that always park in the same place.

If you live on a private road, such as a large condominium, you will need to check your Homeowner’s Association documents for similar rules.

Before you turn someone’s vehicle in, it’s a good idea to inquire whether one of your neighbors knows who it belongs to.  Sometimes people just aren’t aware that their car is disturbing the neighbors, or not aware that there are rules about parking for excessive periods of time.

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