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Private Parking: Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What is meant by private parking?

A.

Private parking refers to a land, site, facility, building or a part thereof, for parking of motor vehicles by the owners, tenants, or employees of that property. Such areas are reserved exclusively for property owners and their guests and are not normally accessible to the general public.

Q. Can you have an illegally parked vehicle in your private parking, towed away?

A.

Although it depends on state and local laws, the answer in most circumstances is yes if the property owner has posted a warning sign saying that parking is prohibited and that vehicles will be towed at the owner's expense.

For example, in Washington, vehicles parked illegally on a residential property can be towed immediately. On a private, non-residential property too, when signage is properly posted, towing can be done immediately. If the private property is non-residential and is not posted with a sign: vehicles illegally parked can be towed after 24 hours.

Q. Which properties need to post a tow warning sign?

A.

A residential homeowner of four or less than four units is not typically required to post private parking tow warning signs to have a vehicle towed that is blocking the driveway.

If you are the owner of an office building, shopping center, apartment complex or condominium community, you will need to conspicuously post No Parking Signs and display that your area is subject to tow away. Signs must have contrasting lettering with the background and should be reflective so it is visible at night or in dimly lit environments.

Q. Do private parking space owners have the authority to issue parking tickets and collect fines?

A.

This usually depends on individual state laws and vehicle codes. In most circumstances, private parking owners do not have statutory authority to issue lawful parking tickets or citations or suspend driver's licenses in the manner law enforcement officers do. However, they may request payment for parking on their private property. Also, they must post a private parking sign "near each entrance and on the property in a clearly conspicuous and visible location to all who park" there.

Q. Is it okay to deflate the tires of a car that is illegally parked on private property?

A.

We do offer a sign with text - Air Will be Taken Out of Tires - License Plates Removed From Unauthorized Parkers. However, it depends on your local laws and jurisdiction whether you can actually take such steps against vehicles illegally parked on your private property.

Most lawyers say that touching a vehicle and deflating the tires is considered “vandalism”. As a private parking owner, the only aim should be to remove the vehicle off your property and not to damage it. In New York, deflating the tires can fall under “Criminal Tampering” (§ 145.14) and is punishable by law.

Posting a warning sign about it would not harm you and will in fact discourage people from wrongly parking.

Q. Does police have the authority to deal with parking violations on private property?

A.

Again this is a matter governed by local laws and codes. The police normally don't deal with parking violations on private parking spaces like a private driveway. They can only interfere in illegal parking issues on publicly owned or controlled parking facilities. However in some jurisdictions, vehicles with outstanding parking tickets can be towed by police, regardless of whether they’re parked on public or private property. If you need to remove an illegally parked or abandoned car from your property, you can call the police to investigate the matter.

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