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LA Towing Law

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#1 sasquatch133


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Posted 25 May 2010 - 10:53 AM

I live in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Behind the house we rent is a large area surrounding the dead end of a street. There is a complete lack of signage in the area prohibiting anyone from parking anywhere, neither are there clear boundaries or even 'no trespassing' signs.  My wife parked in this area and the manager of the property next door had her car towed. No effort was made to request that we move the vehicle.

My questions are as follows:
Was the property manager within her legal rights?
What law(s) are applicable in this situation?

Thanks for helping me with this.

#2 Fallen


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Posted 25 May 2010 - 11:01 AM

I'm afraid this is a pretty arcane area (law wouldn't require a property owner or a manager acting on behalf of a property owner to give you warning/ask you to move before having a car towed), but if you knew it wasn't part of the rental property, best not to park there.  We can't know whether the property manager was within her rights as agent for owner of the property (we can't even know if the property in question was under the manager's purview).

If you establish that this property isn't owned by the same owner or that this property manager doesn't work for the owner of that property, feel free to sue her for the cost of towing and see what happens.

I'll echo PG's advisory "warning" with a twist: (Many) legal issues are complicated. Explanations and comments here might not fully identify or explain the ramifications of your particular problem. I do not give legal advice as such (and such is impermissible here at any rate). Comments are based on personal knowledge and experience and legal info gleaned over a quarter century, and every state has differing laws on and avenues to address most topics.  If you need legal advice, you need to consult (and pay) a professional so that you may have someone to hold accountable.  Acting on personal and informational advice from a stranger on the internet is a bad idea -- at least not without your own thorough due dilience/research and confirmation as it applies to your situation.  :)

#3 sasquatch133


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Posted 25 May 2010 - 01:26 PM

I found what may be the applicable statute, but I cannot be sure of the message. Subsection B seems to say that so long as an authorized representative signs the tow invoice anyone's vehicle can be taken at any time. Subsection C seems to require property owners to post signs warning of imminent towing. I cannot tell whether or not a sign absolutely has to be posted in order to execute a "nonconsensual tow." Any thoughts?

The legal text that follows is from http://www.legis.state.la.us/, which is the Louisiana state legislature website.

Louisiana R.S §1736.  Towing of motor vehicles from private property; definitions; billing invoices; uniform fees; penalties

A.  For purposes of this Section, the
following terms shall have the meaning indicated unless the context
clearly indicates otherwise:

(1)  "Authorized representative" shall
mean an individual a property owner has delegated or inferred
managerial responsibilities to regarding a particular property or
premise.  An authorized representative shall not be a tow truck owner
or operator.

(2)  "Nonconsensual tow" shall mean
the towing of a motor vehicle without the prior consent or
authorization of the motor vehicle owner or operator.

(3)  "Parking areas" shall mean areas
used by the public as a means of access to and egress from, and for the
parking of motor vehicles by patrons of a shopping center, business,
factory, hospital, or institution.  "Parking areas" shall also include
housing and apartment complexes, private or public institutions of
learning, and other similar locations.

(4)  "Tagged for removal" shall mean
the placement of a highly visible sticker or other similar tag, which
contains the date, time, name of the tow company authorized to remove
the vehicle, and the printed name and signature of the property owner
or his authorized representative, in a conspicuous place on the motor
vehicle by the property owner or his authorized representative.  Such
stickers or tags shall be clearly visible to drivers of passing
vehicles and shall not damage, harm, or otherwise alter the appearance
of the motor vehicle.

B.  No tow truck operator engaged in
the nonconsensual tow of a motor vehicle from any parking area shall
tow the motor vehicle unless the tow has been authorized by a law
enforcement agency of competent jurisdiction or the motor vehicle has
been tagged for removal.  However, if the billing invoice has been
signed by the property owner or his authorized representative prior to
the unauthorized vehicle being towed or if the provisions of Subsection
C of this Section are applicable, the vehicle shall not be required to
be tagged for removal.  Any tow truck operator towing a vehicle from a
parking area or private property shall provide a billing invoice to the
owner or redeemer of the motor vehicle which invoice complies with
applicable law and shall include the following information:

(1)  Date and time of service.

(2)  The tow truck operator's name and the time of departure.

(3)  The name of the law enforcement agency requesting the tow, if applicable.

(4)  Itemization of all fees charged for service.

(5)  Any additional information required by the Louisiana Public Service Commission.

C.  Property owners who tow
unauthorized vehicles from their property or parking areas shall place
signage in clearly visible locations at the entrances and exits to such
property warning motorists that unauthorized vehicles may be towed.  A
property owner or his authorized representative who enters into
contracts or agreements with a tow truck company to engage in
tow-related services and activities shall place signage in clearly
visible locations at the entrances and exits to such property warning
motorists that unauthorized vehicles may be towed.  The signage shall
include the name, address, and phone number of the towing company, and
the uniform towing fee in lettering no less than two inches in height.
 Additionally, a copy of the contract or agreement entered into between
the property owner or his authorized representative and the tow truck
company shall be maintained at the business office of the property
owner and the business office of the tow truck company and in the tow
truck.  The contract or agreement shall define the parking rules and
reasons for towing.  Property owners meeting the requirements of this
Subsection shall not be required to tag a motor vehicle for removal or
sign the billing invoice prior to towing.

D.  All fees charged by a tow truck
operator for the nonconsensual towing of a vehicle from private
property or parking areas shall be uniform and shall be set in
accordance with rules and regulations promulgated by the Louisiana
Public Service Commission and by the Department of Public Safety and
Corrections, office of state police.  If the tow truck operator charges
any fee in excess of the uniform fee, the owner of the motor vehicle
shall have a right and cause of action to recover the amount of the
excess fee, storage costs, if applicable, reasonable attorney fees, and
all court costs.  The provisions of this Section shall be enforced by
all state and local law enforcement officers and duly appointed
officers of the Louisiana Public Service Commission.  Tow truck
operators shall make billing invoices available for inspection upon
request by any law enforcement officer or duly appointed officer of the
Louisiana Public Service Commission and shall provide such officers
with a copy of any billing invoice, any contract for services, or the
name, address, and phone number of any property owner or authorized

E.  Any tow truck operator who fails
to comply with the provisions of this Section, who fails to provide a
billing invoice which contains the information required by this Section
to the redeemer of the motor vehicle, or who tows a vehicle in
violation of this Section shall be in violation of the provisions of
R.S. 14:68.4 and shall be subject to any applicable penalty prescribed
by law, including but not limited to the revocation of the towing
license.  Lack of knowledge of the conduct of a tow truck company
employee shall not be a defense for the tow truck company owner.

Acts 2003, No. 1054, §1.

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