They Towed My Car! Can They Do That?

No one likes to have their car towed. But if you park in the wrong place in your HOA or Condo, or ignore a notice requiring your car to be removed for maintenance work, you might be next!
Here’s an email that I received:
“My vehicle was towed while I was at work because the lot was being paved. No notice was posted on community mailbox or on our doors. A simple first class mailing was sent. Can I challenge the tow fee in small claims?”
The answer is that anyone can file a small claims action for anything, but a person has to have a case to win. If the Association was having paving done and sent a notice in the mail to owners that cars had to be moved, it would make sense to MOVE the vehicle. If the Board does not have the vehicle towed then it might hold up the whole job.
There are laws that govern when an HOA or Condo Association can tow a vehicle and generally they require certain signs at the entrances to the development warning of the intent to tow if parked in violation of the rules, and certain notice or warnings to the vehicle owner, and the mail notice, if the writer was provided with 96 hours’ notice, probably does qualify. The laws require someone representing the HOA or Condo Association to be on site to authorize the tow. I can’t really make any ruling about right or wrong in this particular situation, but I can say that there is not a general requirement o f posting notice on the mailbox or the doors. It might have been extra courteous to do so, but isn’t necessary if mailed the notice was provided in a timely way.
If you want to know a lot more about parking and towing restrictions in an HOA or  Condo Association, there is a Primer a ailable on my website – in the webstore – that explains a lot more about parking and towing rights and obligations and California law on the subject. Visit
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