Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 46.2. Motor Vehicles
Chapter 12. Abandoned, Immobilized, Unattended and Trespassing Vehicles; Parking
7/20/2024

§ 46.2-1232. Localities may regulate removal or immobilization of trespassing vehicles.

A. The governing body of any county, city, or town may by ordinance regulate the removal of trespassing vehicles from property by or at the direction of the owner, operator, lessee, or authorized agent in charge of the property. In the event that a vehicle is towed from one locality and stored in or released from a location in another locality, the local ordinance, if any, of the locality from which the vehicle was towed shall apply.

B. No local ordinance adopted under authority of this section shall require that any towing and recovery business also operate as or provide services as a vehicle repair facility or body shop, filling station, or any business other than a towing and recovery business.

C. Any such local ordinance may also require towing and recovery operators to (i) obtain and retain photographs or other documentary evidence substantiating the reason for the removal; (ii) post signs at their main place of business and at any other location where towed vehicles may be reclaimed conspicuously indicating (a) the maximum charges allowed by local ordinance, if any, for all their fees for towing, recovery, and storage services and (b) the name and business telephone number of the local official, if any, responsible for handling consumer complaints; (iii) obtain at the time the vehicle is towed, verbal approval of an agent designated in the local ordinance who is available at all times; and (iv) obtain, at the time the vehicle is towed, if such towing is performed during the normal business hours of the owner of the property from which the vehicle is being towed, the written authorization of the owner of the property from which the vehicle is towed or his agent. Such written authorization, if required, shall be in addition to any written contract between the towing and recovery operator and the owner of the property or his agent. Any such written contract governing a property located within Planning District 8 or Planning District 16 shall clearly state the terms on which towing and recovery operators may monitor private lots on behalf of property owners and any local ordinance created pursuant to this subsection may regulate the monitoring practices that may be used by such towing and recovery operators. For the purposes of this subsection, "agent" does not include any person who either (a) is related by blood or marriage to the towing and recovery operator or (b) has a financial interest in the towing and recovery operator's business.

D. Any such ordinance adopted by a locality within Planning District 8 may require towing companies that tow vehicles from the county, city, or town adopting the ordinance to other localities, provided that the stored or released location is within the Commonwealth of Virginia and within 10 miles of the point of origin of the actual towing, (i) to obtain from the locality from which such vehicles are towed a permit to do so and (ii) to submit to an inspection of such towing company's facilities to ensure that the company meets all the locality's requirements, regardless of whether such facilities are located within the locality or elsewhere. The locality may impose and collect reasonable fees for the issuance and administration of permits as provided for in this subsection. Such ordinance may also provide grounds for revocation, suspension, or modification of any permit issued under this subsection, subject to notice to the permittee of the revocation, suspension, or modification and an opportunity for the permittee to have a hearing before the governing body of the locality or its designated agent to challenge the revocation, suspension, or modification. Any tow truck driver who removes or tows a vehicle, pursuant to any such ordinance, that is occupied by an unattended companion animal as defined in § 3.2-6500 shall, upon such removal, immediately notify the animal control office of the locality in which the vehicle is being removed or towed. Nothing in this subsection shall be applicable to public safety towing.

Nothing in this subsection shall restrict or modify the authority of a locality within Planning District 8 to require, by such ordinance, towing companies that tow and store or release vehicles within such county, city, or town to obtain from such locality a permit to do so.

E. For purposes of this subsection:

"Multifamily dwelling unit" means more than one single-family dwelling unit located in a building, including townhomes. "Multifamily dwelling unit" does not include any lot within a development created pursuant to the Property Owners' Association Act (§ 55.1-1800 et seq.), any unit within a condominium created pursuant to the Virginia Condominium Act (§ 55.1-1900 et seq.), any apartment within a horizontal property regime created pursuant to the Horizontal Property Act (§ 55.1-2000 et seq.), any unit within a cooperative created pursuant to the Virginia Real Estate Cooperative Act (§ 55.1-2100 et seq.), any time-share unit within a project created pursuant to the Virginia Real Estate Time-Share Act (§ 55.1-2200 et seq.), or any lot within a subdivision created pursuant to the Subdivided Land Sales Act (§ 55.1-2300 et seq.).

"Resident's vehicle" means any vehicle that is (i) owned, leased, or used by a resident of a multifamily dwelling unit in which the parking lot is owned and maintained by the landlord; (ii) known to the landlord to be associated with such resident, by means of a permit, registry, or other document designated by the landlord for such identification purposes; and (iii) in compliance with any requirements set forth in such lease or other agreement regarding such vehicle.

"Towing operator" means any individual or company that has contracted with a landlord for the provision of parking enforcement.

Any such local ordinance shall include a provision that requires, for the towing of a resident's vehicle from a parking lot owned and maintained by the landlord of a multifamily dwelling unit, the towing operator for such parking lot, prior to the towing of such vehicle for an expired vehicle registration or expired vehicle inspection sticker, to post written notice on the vehicle, which shall include the date of posting of such notice, that such vehicle will be towed due to an expired registration or expired vehicle inspection sticker after 48 hours from the date of the posting of such notice and that such vehicle will not be removed or towed until such period of time has passed. The towing operator shall, in addition to posting such notice on the vehicle, transmit a copy of such notice to the landlord with which he contracts for parking enforcement of the multifamily dwelling unit's parking lot. If a towing operator fails to post such notice on the vehicle, or does not wait the required period of time prior to removing or requesting the towing of such vehicle, he shall be required to reimburse the resident whose vehicle was towed the value of the charges imposed for the towing, storage, and safekeeping of the vehicle and he shall also be subject to a civil penalty not to exceed $100.

No towing operator shall remove such vehicle until the 48 hours have passed from the date of the posting of such notice.

Code 1950, § 46-541; 1952, c. 352; 1954, c. 435; 1958, c. 541, § 46.1-551; 1978, cc. 202, 335; 1979, c. 132; 1983, c. 34; 1985, c. 375; 1989, cc. 17, 727; 1990, cc. 502, 573; 2006, cc. 874, 891; 2009, cc. 186, 544; 2012, cc. 149, 812; 2017, c. 825; 2018, cc. 411, 412; 2024, cc. 308, 537, 653.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.