NJ Towing Regulations – An Overview of Private Property Towing Guidelines and Rules in New Jersey

NJ Towing Regulations – An Overview of Private Property Towing Guidelines and Rules in New Jersey
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VMC Management Private Property Towing Guidelines

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No one likes to have his or her car towed!  Imagine the anger that will be directed toward you if you are the culprit behind that car being towed?  Now imagine if the car was towed illegally and you had to pay for damages!  Rules and regulations constantly change so it’s important to keep abreast of them.  With respect to NJ towing regulations as it pertains to private property non-consensual towing in New Jersey, otherwise known as the Predatory Towing Prevention Act, it’s important to understand the bare minimum guidelines as outlined by NJ Division of Consumer Affairs (“DCA”) – Office of Consumer Protection.  Our understanding of the critical guidelines are:

1) At All Entrances a Detailed 36 in. x 36 in. New Jersey DCA Approved Sign Must Be Posted

Read that guideline again.  Most signs do not meet the three (3) feet x three (3) feet REQUIRED dimension – this alone is grounds for the putting you at risk.  The sign must also include the following information:

  • The purposes for which parking is authorized;
  • The times when parking is permitted;
  • That unauthorized parking is prohibited and unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense;
  • The name of, and contact information for, the towing company and the address of the storage facility–which must be secure and located within a reasonable distance of the property–to which the vehicle will be towed;
  • The charges for towing and storage and the times during which the vehicle may be redeemed; and
  • Contact information for the Division of Consumer Affairs (1-800-242-5846).
  • Click Here for the DCA Sign (not the most attractive)

2) The property owner and the towing company have a contract for the towing and the property owner has authorized the towing company to remove the particular vehicle.

It’s important that you have a contract with a reputable, courteous towing company.  You will be spending money on sign creation, tenant notice and awareness.  It’s best to make sure that you benefit economically since this can be costly.  Equally important, you want to ensure that the other guidelines are met.

3) The tow company must adhere to the Predatory Towing Prevention Act which prohibits the tow company from the following:

  • Failing to release a vehicle hooked or lifted, but not actually removed from private property, upon request of the vehicle’s owner;
  • Trolling (cruising) for vehicles parked without authorization;
  • Paying for information about vehicles parked without
  • authorization;
  • Refusing to accept an insurance company check or a debit card, charge card, credit card or check for towing or storage services, if the towing company ordinarily
  • accepts such payment at its place of business;
  • Charging for a towing or storage service not on the Division’s schedule of services; and
  • Charging an unreasonable or excessive fee.

4) The tow company fees must be reasonable.  

  • “A reasonable fee is considered one that is no more than 25% greater than the company’s fee for the same consensual (vehicle-owner approved) towing services, or no more than 50% above the fees charged by other towing companies in the community for the same towing services without the vehicle owner’s permission.”
  • Towing and storage charges cannot exceed rates set by town ordinance.  Please be sure to check with your local municipality to verify that these rates are not exceeded by the tow company

5) The tow company must provide safe, secure and accessible tow storage during normal and after-hours 

The vehicle must be stored in a secure facility;
The facility’s business office must be open to the public between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. at least five days a week; and
A towing company must make reasonable accommodation for after-hours release of stored vehicles. The towing company may charge for after-hours release.

This is just an overview.  If we are missing anything, feel free to let us know.  Good Luck and Happy, Safe  Towing!

32 Responses to NJ Towing Regulations – An Overview of Private Property Towing Guidelines and Rules in New Jersey

  1. Patty March 4, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    Where can you purchase the NJ tow away sign that fits the regulations

    • VMC November 3, 2016 at 3:47 pm

      You best option is to choose a towing company first. The towing company usually provides the appropriate signage for free or minimal cost.

  2. Rick Hoteck November 2, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    My Homeowners Association put up these NJ DCA Approved signs at the two entrances to our townhouse complex, one on the main entrance and one in our overflow parking lot. The sign in the main entrance is “really ugly” in our beautifully landscaped entrance.

    I have a few questions:
    1) The signs were posted to stop non-owners from parking in our overflow lot and in the Marina in the back of our complex (which is for dock renters only). Do we have to have a sign in the main entrance, or just in the entrance to our overflow and back by the Marina?

    2) Does the sign in the main entrance need to be within a certain distance from the main road, or can it be placed back 20 or 30 feet from the main entrance (’cause it’s so ugly)?

    • VMC November 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      The guidelines state that the signs must be placed at the entrance. I would suggest placing them in other areas as well co-mingled with other signs identifying those who can and cannot park in any respective area. You can “spruce” up the sign a bit though the use of color, border trim, etc. Just be sure that the signage content and size requirements are met.

  3. mark thanhauser November 3, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Is a Pennsylvania tow company aloud to tow a car on private property in new Jersey

    • VMC November 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm

      I don’t think this would pose any problem. The NJ Department of Community Affairs “NJ DCA” has strict registration guidelines and towing capability physical and financial requirements (e.g insurance, reasonable rates, pickup location and hours, etc.), which are outlined in the NJ Predatory Towing Prevention Act. The intent I presume is to act as a barrier of entry to the market to those owners or towing companies to those who may take advantage of the situation because tow rates aren’t cheap.

  4. Julie Papocchia January 28, 2017 at 9:46 am

    I watch my granddaughter during the daytime at my daighters apartment complex and I back my car in because it’s an old car and should it need a jumpstart the front end is easily accessible. My dsughter received a notice that if I don’t frontin park my car I will be towed, is this legal?

    • VMC February 9, 2017 at 8:04 pm

      It’s uncertain. Some communities have additional restrictions such as having its residents back in or pull forward from parking spaces. These restrictions may be embedded in the bylaws of the association or perhaps in a parking rider. I would check these documents. I would also seek a variance from the complex stating the reason why. In addition, I would check with the Division of Consumer Affairs by calling 1-800-242-5846. In the meantime you may want to invest in 25’+ Cable Starter Booster Cables.

  5. Olga Ramirez February 14, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    My car was towed from the lot in my building’s parking property. I pay for my space but, because of the snow, i parked on the spot next to me. My neighbor, who parks next to me, had my car towed over the weekend without me being notified that I was illegaly parked. When I went to pick up my car on Monday I realized that my car was gone. Management called the towing company that had towed my car and they said that they would bring my car to me; they did not want me to go pick it up. When the driver of the tow truck came to me he asked me to give him the money and then he would tell me where my car was parked. It so happens that my car had been parked 8 blocks from where I live in a lot small shopping center and it had been parked there since it had been towed according to a neighbor of mine that saw it and thought it looked similar to my car but did not know that it was actually my car. I was not given a receipt because, according to the tow truck driver, I was given a good deal therefore, he was not able to give me a receipt. My card was towed by a truck from Garfield but was towed to Union City, NJ. I feel that there was something illegal with this whole procedure. Am I correct? Please advise.
    Thank you.

    • VMC March 24, 2017 at 12:35 am

      Sorry for the delay. Please call the NJ DCA Consumer Service Center at (973) 504-6200 immediately!

  6. Joseph March 19, 2017 at 5:29 am

    Are the signs really needed in store parking lots. The lot is for customers and once they are done shopping they take their car with them.

    • VMC March 21, 2017 at 9:16 am

      NJ Towing Regulations must be adhered to in any instance one plans to engage in towing vehicles off of the property.

  7. Vince March 23, 2017 at 10:30 am

    My HOA placed No parking/tow away signs along streets, but there is no actual sign that states who the company is, how much fees, where car will be towed etc… Isn’t this illegal or at least contrary to the NJ private property towing laws?

    • VMC March 24, 2017 at 12:09 am

      Take a look at the attached sign VMC Managment Towing Sign Examplebecause it should have information similar to it. If it doesn’t have this information, call the Consumer Service Center at (973) 504-6200.

  8. Laura Robinson March 24, 2017 at 12:06 am

    My issue is that my back yard is adjacent to an alley, and people keep parking their car in my yard. Im having a fence installed within the next 2 weeks, does the same posting rules apply if its not a parking lot?

    • VMC March 24, 2017 at 12:24 am

      As usual, it depends. It most likely isn’t necessary if the motor vehicle is parked:
      1) On a lot or parcel on which is situated a single-family unit;
      2) On a lot or parcel on which is situated an owner occupied multi-unit structure of not more
      than six units; or
      3) In front of any driveway or garage entrance where the motor vehicle is blocking access to
      that driveway or entrance.
      If there is any doubt, you can always call your local police department to ticket the car, then have it removed.

  9. Amanda May 5, 2017 at 11:45 am

    I work at a warehouse with a pretty small lot for the amount of people employed. The management has sanctioned (by painting numbers on) certain parking spots for management. My question is, can I be towed if i park in a numbered spot? (There is no signage anywhere in the lot, except the standard handicapped.) Thanks!

    • VMC May 5, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      You can be towed, albeit illegally.

  10. Lukman May 18, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    My vehicle was towed from orange train station for expired registration.
    After getting the release form, i was charged $45/day for storage at the towing company along with the elizabeth parking tax, towing and impound fee, is this beyond the state allowed rate?
    Is there anything like parking tax?

    Thank you

    • VMC May 27, 2017 at 11:37 am

      Anyone who has had their car towed can empathize with the financial drain is causes. While I’m not sure why you are paying the City of Elizabeth’s Tow and Storage Fees and not those of the City of Orange, ALL municipalities have charges such as this. If you would like to confirm those charges, you can usually speak with the appropriate individual(s) at City hall. You can also check to see if those fees are online. For example, the related towing fees for the City of East Orange can be found online at the following url -> http://ecode360.com/9567069.

  11. Nicole Lucero July 31, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    We recently just bought a new travel trailer and parked it in an empty lot next to our townhomes, until a spot opens up where we can store it. There are no signs at all stating that it is reserved or restricted parking, and there are no lines on the pavement showing that it is even a parking lot. We received a notice from property management saying that it is reserved parking for the street that we live on, and that we must move it or it will be towed. The notice does not give any information about the towing costs, company, or storage. Our property manager is saying that because we were warned that we must move it or be towed. From everything I have read, they are not able to because there is nothing posted anywhere and they did not provide the towing info. Are they legally able to tow it because it is a travel trailer and not a car?

    Thank you!

    • VMC October 4, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Sorry for the delay. For every rule there is always a workaround including but not limited to getting the police involved to ticket your vehicle and then have it removed. You can always fight this in court but as the saying goes, “the wheels of justice grind slowly.” Additionally, I am not sure what the Home Owner’s Association’s rules are with respect to parking in unmarked or non-designated areas. There still be a case given that certain guidelines and notifications must be in place to be legally towed without legal retribution and you can contact Division of Consumer Affairs (1-800-242-5846) to confirm. Most also understand that the legal system is slow and potentially costly. A conversation and potential compromise with the property management company may be the most prudent course of action.

  12. CHRIS L KIRBY September 13, 2017 at 10:16 am

    I drive a tow truck in NJ. By law do i need to wear a safety vest while towing. This seems to be a hear say here in town.

    • VMC October 4, 2017 at 11:05 am

      Sorry for the delay Chris. Unfortunately, I do not have the answer for you. My suggestion for you is to call the NJ Division of Consumer Affairs (1-800-242-5846) with your inquiry and be sure to confirm the Safety Vest Class of 1, 2 or 3 (Class 3 being worn for those most risk prone to areas with high traffic, 50 MPH+). It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

  13. milton October 6, 2017 at 6:57 pm

    My car was towed from the lot in my building’s parking property. We have designated spaces but, because of personal reason, I parked on another spot who correspond a neighbor that doesn’t even have a car. that neighbor called to the building management’s office to had my car towed. Then I was in my apartment and suddenly I notice a noice to come from the parking lot and I remain my car was in a spot that wasn’t mine and can saw my car was being towed it was already been loaded onto the tow truck but not started to left the property.
    I approached immediately to the tow driver and ask him to release my car because all cars have a tag for identification as a resident; and the posted signs in my building’s parking, state that building’s parking is only for residents.
    I asked the tow driver why he was towing my car and he stated that I wasn’t in my corresponding spot and for that reason the management office called them to get my car towed. Then he states that I have to pay $100 if want my car being unloaded and that it is going to be more expensive for me if I allow my car get towed.
    I did have to pay the $100 to unload and release my car and when I asked the management office why they did not warn me first to leave that parking space instead of getting my car be towed; they said they have the right to do it without any notice.
    Could this be legal?

    • VMC October 11, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      First and foremost, anyone that has ever experienced having one’s car towed involuntarily can empathize with your situation. Based on the statements you provided it appears as though the building management and the towing company adhered to standard practices in NJ. You can always discuss with legal counsel (which may not be cost effective) or give a call to NJ Division of Consumer Affairs (1-800-242-5846).

  14. Jenelle October 26, 2017 at 6:52 pm

    I park in a parking garage in Guttenberg, NJ that’s apart of my boyfriends condominium building. Parking is open to residents who must pay monthly, or mall shoppers/visitors who are given a ticket upon entrance and pay a certain amount when they leave based on the length of time they were parked here. You either stick the ticket in your windshield or residents attach a decal to the rear view mirror that’s specifically numbered to there vehicle and apartment number.

    Recently, they switched over to new decals that display the license plate number on the decal. There are some reserved spots in the garage, as well as signs posted in those reserved spots that parking in one results in a tow and a fine. However, in the years I’ve been parking here, they would usually try and find the cars owner and ask them to move, or anyone in violation in any of the parking rules (backing into a spot, no ticket/decal/taking up 2 spaces) would receive a warning notice on there car.

    This past weekend, we found out they decided to start cracking down on vehicles with old decals. The only way to know this was an announcements newsletter by the mailboxes that you would have to willingly take, it is not given to tenants/owners. Through no other means of communication was this crackdown relayed to residents by the condominium association. My decal was still the old one, as I wasn’t aware the deadline passed. A person waves you in and out of the parking garage every single time you enter or exit, and not once did any of those people tell me my decal was no longer valid.

    They booted my vehicle, and left a notice stating I was in violation of garage rules for expired or invalid decal. On the opposite side of the paper it states the reasons vehicles may be booted. Oddly enough, not one of those state invalid/expired decal.

    The reasons are if your parking privileges were suspended, parking in a location where vehicles are not permitted, double parking, expired temp tag, parked in reserved/handicapped, vehicle exceeding 17ft in length, parking with mall decal after 11pm. It states you must pay $250 to have the boot removed.

    It does not list a tow company and any signs in the garage refer only to vehicles being towed for unauthorized parking. After witnessing another person have there boot removed (and flipping out while this happened), it seems the garage’s security employees (employed by the Galaxy, the condominium), are placing the boots on he cars and have the keys to remove them incense payment is made.

    My question is, when signs are states for tow away zones does the word tow cover immobilizing the vehicle? How do I find out if he fee is excessive? Do I need to contact the admin office here for a copy of rules and regulations. Can they boot my car when in there own copy of the reasons for boot are listed on the violation paper do not include expired/invalid decal? Do I need to somehow contact Guttenberg and look at any private parking laws they have?

    It is difficult because in all my googling I cannot find anything stating whether towing is also a placeholder for booting. Can the building change these fees and put boots on themselves with NO signs regarding this? The only information says to contact security to have the boot removed. Did they need to give warnings prior?

    I appreciate any advice you can give and any expertise you can share in this matter. This is the only website I’ve found where not only do you try to share information but you actually answer and help others commenting. I want to say thank you for that.

    • VMC October 27, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      NJ Towing Regulations must be adhered to in any instance one plans to engage in towing vehicles off of the property or immobilize a vehicle. As per NJ Predatory Towing Act, “A reasonable fee is considered one that is no more than 25% greater than the company’s fee for the same vehicle-owner-approved towing services, or no more than 50% above the fees charged by other towing companies in the community for the same towing services without the vehicle owner’s permission. Towing and storage charges cannot exceed rates set by town ordinance.” Take a look at the attached sign because somewhere near the entrance a sign MUST exist with information similar to it. If it doesn’t have this information, call the Consumer Service Center at (973) 504-6200 because the same laws apply if the community is attempting to immobilize any vehicle via a wheel boot. Also, I believe that an association cannot immobilize a vehicle with the placement of a wheel boot if the association intends to charge a fee to remove the boot. VMC Managment Towing Sign Example

  15. Jenelle October 30, 2017 at 11:48 pm

    Thank you for that information. I walked around to the entrance of the garage and just around the parking lot. There is NO sign even close to the one required by law. The only one they have displays costs of parking per hour for visitors of the building and mall. A few general “unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owners expense” and in reserved spots for certain residents “Reserved Parking Only – Unauthorized users will be charged $25 a day. Tow at owners expense.” No where do they even list a tow company. I also believe there announcement to residents that they would be patrolling parking garage resulting in numerous vehicles booted overnight would also be in violation of the acts “no patrolling for vehicles in violation” section.

    I appreciate the information. I was confused as to how the situation would work out being that the security team here working for the condominium association booting the vehicles themselves would count as a towing company. But the more I read it seems like they shouldn’t be booting the vehicles anyways. It explicitly states $250 fee to remove which like you say is not allowed. But also I’ve read the must have a contract with a towing company. I would think booting the vehicles themselves could open them up to liability issues.

    I’m not surprised since they are in currently in the process of becoming ADA compliant which seems very late to be doing.

  16. Jenelle November 3, 2017 at 12:20 pm

    Hi again,

    Just another update and I guess question. I’d appreciate any further guidance you can give on this issue. I spoke to the person “in charge” I’m not quite sure the position title, she was very careful in her answers, but stated if I BELIEVE that it’s been booted illegally, I can file a complaint, but it won’t come off until I pay the $250. I told her that was ridiculous and she kept telling me that the garage has rules and I told her state law doesn’t trump those rules.

    I was going to try the police department and see if there was anything they’d be able to do in helping me get my car back. I also filed a complaint woth consumer affairs. Is there anything else I can do??? I really need my car and I’m confused about if I pay now will that keep from me being reimbursed or going forward with my complaint.

    I recall seeing something in the law about making a good faith effort to resolve any disputes. So I’m not sure how to go about that. Thanks for all your help.

  17. Jenelle November 4, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    After filing a complaint with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affair and the condominium building regarding the illegal booting of my vehicle, they requested my car be towed and advised the tow truck company not to release my vehicle until I paid them the $250 boot removal fee that they took off on there own when towing it. Vehicles guilty of identical violations are still here booted in the parking lot. No where during our conversation was towing mentioned or warned.

    Yet, the towing company claims I was given 48 hours. He also claimed I had unpaid dues and that’s what the association told him. Yet, I’m not an owner or legally a tenant here. I do live here with my boyfriend, however my license is still my Morris county address and when asked by the office if I’m resident I worried legally saying yes and not having a license to match would reflect poorly upon me and stated no.

    Tow truck driver had many excuses, different stories of why, said the predatory tow act doesn’t apply here because I’m trespassing, (how? When in order to get in the garage you must be manually checked t an attendant and let in?) and other various nonsensical things.

    How can I escalate this to the point I’m given some guidance and assistance on how to proceed? I’ve clearly been retaliated against and I can’t fathom how that’s legal.

    • VMC November 7, 2017 at 5:04 pm

      My only advice is to seek counsel. If you cannot afford one, please speak with Legal Aid, perhaps they can help with guidance on the NJ Predatory Towing Act or perhaps filing a claim via Small Claims court . Good Luck.


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