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Who do I sue for unlawful tow at a condo community? The owner (who ordered the tow), the property management company or the HOA?

Davis, CA |

I parked in a space while visiting a friend who is a tenant in a mixed condo/rental development. I pulled into a parking space that had an upright sign which read "Guest Parking Only Resident parking prohibited, violators will be towed at owner's expense". I was there visiting for about 2 hours. When I came back my car was gone. On the ground of the spot where I had been parked was painted "reserved". I called the police who did some legwork and found my car was actually towed. I believe I have a good case, but I'm not sure who to pursue to get the tow charges back... the owner, the tow company, the property manager, the HOA? Any help would be great.

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Attorney answers 1


I'd say the HOA and the towing company.

California Vehicle Code §22658 was changed sometime in 2007 so that HOAs may tow vehicles for parking violations only if:

1) appropriate signage has been posted;

2) the vehicle has been issued a notice of parking violation and 96 hours have elapsed since the issuance of that notice; or

3) the vehicle is inoperable and the local traffic enforcement agency has been notified at least 24 hours prior to towing; or

4) the property upon which the vehicle is parked is improved with a single-family dwelling.

Since it appears none of the foregoing instances apply to your situation, you can sue the HOA. The property management company is merely an agent for the HOA and would not have independent liability to you.

In addition, since you weren't parked in a fire zone or blocking ingress/egress, I believe the towing company can also be held jointly liable. Under California Vehicle Code §22658(l)(1)(A), each time a vehicle is towed, the HOA is suppose to provide a specific signed authorization to the towing company and a representative of the HOA must be present when the vehicle is towed. I doubt that ever happened.

The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.



My beginning situation is exactly the same, except I parked in a Guest spot, with a valid Visitors parking pass displayed on my rearview mirror. My car was towed overnight due because they said I was a resident. I am not a resident there in fact, and only a visitor. If HOA refuses that statement, what steps do I need to take?