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sasquatch133

LA Towing Law

3 posts in this topic

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.

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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.

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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

representative.

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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