We all too frequently hear from clients in relation to abandoned cars left at properties they manage, which are not only becoming an eye sore, but also a nuisance for car owners at properties where parking spaces may be limited. However, there are a couple of ways in which you can look into getting them removed.
Firstly, go through the following checklist which local authorities use to ascertain whether a car is classed as abandoned:
- Has the vehicle not moved in 3-4 weeks?
- Does the vehicle have a missing number plate?
- Does the vehicle have 2 or more flat tyres or wheels missing?
- Are the windscreen or windows broken?
- Have doors or the bonnet been left open?
- Does the vehicle have visible internal damage or vandalism?
- Is the car covered in mould or rust?
- Are there litter and weeds under the vehicle?
In our experience, if the answer to 4 or more of the above questions is yes, then the vehicle will tend to be classed as abandoned. If that is the case, then there are a number of ways in which you can go about dealing with the vehicle:
1. Report the vehicle to a local authority
You can report the abandoned car to a local authority using the Government online reporting page here, as they have a duty to remove abandoned vehicles from land in the open air (including private land) and from roads (including private roads). The local authority will then need to decide whether the vehicle is abandoned. If they deem the vehicle abandoned, the local authority can either issue a fixed penalty notice or choose to prosecute. They can also dispose of the vehicle immediately if it is only fit to be destroyed, or it doesn’t have number plates. However, if that isn’t the case, they must try to find the owner and if they do so, they must then give the owner 7 days written notice to collect the vehicle before disposing of it.
2. Utilise the procedure under the Torts Act 1977
Once you have completed the checklist detailed previously and class the vehicle as abandoned, obtain a DVLA search of the registered keeper and write to the legal registered keeper asking them to remove the vehicle. If all efforts to get in contact with the owner fail then there is a procedure under the Torts (Interference with Goods) Act 1977 to dispose of the vehicle. Firstly, download a free Tort notice and place one on all four sides of the vehicle. If the vehicle remains abandoned for more than 28 days after serving the notice you can then pay a recovery company to remove the vehicle. However, if you do choose to remove the vehicle, you do so at your own risk, and it is therefore crucial that you document every step you take as proof of following the correct process. Additionally, please note that removed vehicles should be stored for a minimum of 28 days and any monetary value of the vehicle after costs if sold or scrapped should be returned to the registered keeper.
Whichever route you choose to go down to remove the vehicle, please be aware that resident management companies, freeholders and managing agents are not allowed to move the vehicle themselves. This is because under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, only authorised bodies, such as local authority, recovery companies or police, can move a motor vehicle on private land.