For the first time in the history of the Towing and Booting Act, “relocations” are now allowed to occur. Yay!
At first glance, this seems like awesome and amazing news. How often does it happen that a pipe needs to be fixed or a parking lot needs to be painted and you need vehicles moved out of the way, but don’t necessarily want them towed off the property? The ability to be able to simply relocate these vehicles within the property rather than tow them has been granted. But, like most things granted by legislature, there are some catches….
A Bit of Background
So many times a property will call into a towing company and want to have some vehicles “moved”. It could be that there are trees being trimmed or construction going on or any number of reasons. The property put out notices to residents to move their vehicles, but unfortunately (and typically), several vehicles are still parked in the area. The first call to make is to the towing company to ask to move them. Some properties are shocked, however, when their towing company is hesitant or refuses. While it seems like the right thing to do (move these vehicles instead of having them towed away), its actually an illegal thing to do. And a big risk to ask of your towing provider.
Texas law has historically stated that a vehicle may only be towed to a certified “VSF”, or Vehicle Storage Facility. And, unfortunately, an adjacent area of the parking lot doesn’t count as a VSF. No tow truck company serving private property is supposed to tow a vehicle anywhere except to a VSF.
Now, it seems the law has changed and this is being made possible, but it has some hitches and requires some planning for both the apartment and the towing service.
The first thing to note is that allowing this type of towing within the property requires additional signage. The signage allowing relocations needs to be up 72 hours before a vehicle is moved. This means that if you are planning some construction, you’ll want to plan for your towing company to come out and display the additional signs at least three days ahead of time.
The great news is that the additional signage can be removed after the construction takes place.
This does not work, however, for last minute or emergency situations. Since the law states that the sign would have to be in place for 72 hours, relocations of any vehicles are not allowed before that time is up unless the owner of the vehicle is present. Of course, if the owner of the vehicle were present you probably wouldn’t need a tow truck to move the car!
The second item to consider is payment. Towing companies are unlike other vendors in the sense that a property doesn’t usually pay a towing company for towing services.
Towing companies almost always receive their compensation from the storage lot. The storage receives compensation from individuals picking up their vehicles.
Since the idea of relocating is to avoid the storage lot entirely, the issue of how the towing company is going to be compensated for their work does come up.
Contrary to popular belief, towing companies cannot look up ownership of vehicles nor can they bill a vehicle owner for non-consent towing. Because of this, the property would become responsible for compensating the towing company. The property could then, of course, choose to bill those charges back to residents. This becomes more complicated, however, if the vehicles belong to visitors or its not known who the vehicle belongs to.
This can be a difficult decision to make, especially if it’s a last minute kind of thing and there was no budget created for such a situation.
While relocating a vehicle is substantially less expensive than paying for it at the storage lot (about $25 to $35 per car), the property now becomes the payer and that can put a crunch in a budget. Often, properties may choose to bear the expense rather than bear residents whose cars have been towed.
While this law seems to benefit property managers substantially, it has some towing companies worried. In the past many towing companies have done relocations out of compassion or courtesy for managers trying to make the best choice for residents. Now, however, that the law has been changed in this way some companies worry that the authorities will become more strict about not allowing any relocations without proper signage and notices, even for urgent property repairs.
The change now highlights an area of the law we’ve commonly overlooked to offer great service to our clients Only time will tell how this law plays out, but we hope it will benefit all involved.