My apartment complex, which has very limited permit parking,* also has several highly-conspicuous signs warning that unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the vehicle owner's expense. Additionally, the lease includes the following:

We may have unauthorized or illegally parked vehicles towed under an appropriate law. A vehicle is unauthorized or illegally parked in the apartment community if it:

1) has a flat tire or other condition rendering it inoperable; or...

3) has no current license or no current inspection sticker; or...

There was a vehicle in the lot with an out-of-state license plate that expired in 2014, and a flat tire, for over a week, after which I contacted the apartment management; the next day, there was a notice on the vehicle indicating that both conditions would need to be remedied to avoid a tow.

The following day I saw that the tire had been replaced, the vehicle moved to a different parking space, and the expired license plate was now hanging at an angle by a single bolt; then later I saw that the expired license plate had been fully reattached, but there was now also an Illinois plate with a current sticker sitting in the back shelf of the car (laying flat; it would not be visible e.g. to the driver of a police car behind).

I contacted the apartment management again, informing them of all of this (I even gave them a photo), and they confirmed to me that the current license plate would in fact have to be properly installed in order to be "authorized" to park in the permit space, and said that they would contact the owner.

However, at no point since then was another official notice placed on the vehicle, and it has been this way for several weeks now.

Can I contact the tow company on my own to have the vehicle removed (or a notice placed on the vehicle), or is this something that only the property owner can do?

*~1.4 spaces per unit, all of which are 2- and 3-bedroom apartments.

1 Answer 1


You may contact a towing company; they will ask who you are, and will politely inform you that since you aren't the property owner, they aren't authorized to take someone else's car that is trespassing on the property.


The first step in unraveling the legalities of the situation is seeing that only the property owner can give permission to enter (park) on the property. That permission can be rescinded, but only by the owner. The owner seems to have given permission and has stated in advance some conditions under which permission might be rescinded. The towing company could be called (by the owner) to act as the agent for the owner and remove the offending vehicle; but the towing company cannot just up an do this on their own. If they were to spontaneously tow a vehicle without officially acting on behalf of the owner, they would be liable for damages, owing to their having torted some guy's chattels. So the company will want to know that they are protected, in acting as the agent of the property owner. One way to do that is to verify that the person calling the towing company is the owner. Another would be to get the caller to swear that they are the owner and indemnify them against damages, in case they get sued. That pound of cure is more costly and annoying than the ounce of prevention of making sure that you're towing a car with proper authorization, so it's unlikely that they would just tow the car on your say-so.

You might try suing the complex owner for some kind of breach of contract, if you think you have a contractual right to a parking space and they are negligent in doing what's necessary to meet your contractual right. The lease says "we may...", not "we will", so they haven't promised to absolutely enforce this rule. Or, of course, you could call the manager and mention that there's still a problem.

  • Is this your opinion, or is there a particular law on which this answer is based? Jul 20, 2016 at 16:15
  • This is based on the elements of tort law, trespass to chattels.
    – user6726
    Jul 20, 2016 at 17:14

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