Tuesday, June 9, 2015

To Tow or Not to Tow?

Towing is a drastic step used only after other options fail - or when life & safety are at stake.  Too often, an over-eager Board member quickly calls in a wrecker, with expensive consequences for the community.  Be sure the following steps are taken to close out loop-holes:
  • Review the community's Declaration of Covenants for towing notification requirements
  • Confirm the tow zones are owned by the Association, not public roadways
  • Issue a community-wide 30-day notice (& post at the mail box if there is one) of parking regulations and the intent to start enforcement
  • Chalk the tires of vehicles suspected of being stored, and check weekly for at least three weeks to see if they have been moved
  • Compare vehicles with community registration forms and contact vehicle owner
  • Tag vehicles and wait a couple of days.  Tag again if these are moved but still in violation
  • Provide police with the make, model and tag of vehicles scheduled to be towed.  This prevents police interference during towing, and eliminates ‘stolen vehicle’ claims
  • Keep handy a copy of the Georgia Supreme Court case of Reinertsen v. Porter, showing towing from private property is authorized
  • Snap two photos of each vehicle before towing:  One at a distance to show placement, and one of the tag/rear of vehicle
  • Tow only on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, to cut down on weekend calls
  • Notify all Board members and management of vehicles actually towed, so when the calls come in, everyone is in ‘the know’
  • Maintain documentation to demonstrate fair and equal treatment
  • If in doubt, call off a towing event.  There will be future opportunities to tow if the vehicle owner chronically violates the regulations

Often, it only takes one round of towing to send a message, but any Board embarking on this path must be prepared to consistently tow for many months.  Changing negative behavior takes time.  In extreme circumstances where large numbers of vehicles need to be removed, be sure to employ an off-duty police officer or sheriff to assist with confrontations.  Avoid premature towing.  Be thorough and measured in your approach when it comes to removing personal property.

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