Can a landlord add a tow charge to your rent if you parked where you shouldn’t have?

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Can a landlord add a tow charge to your rent if you parked where you shouldn’t have?

My apartment manager had my vehicle tagged “will tow if not moved”, and then called a tow company to tow my vehicle. I moved the car, so when the tow truck arrived they couldn’t tow it. The manager (HUD housing) has since added the tow charge ($50) to our rent. Is this against the law? Can she charge me for moving my car before the tow truck came to tow me?

Asked on June 3, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If the landlord had to pay the towing company because they were called, they can seek to recover that cost, which you caused them to incur, from you. The fact that you moved the car, so that it could not actually be moved, does not change the fact that the landlord incurred a cost due to your actions, for which it may seek recovery.

2) However, it cannot add that charge to your rent unless the lease specifically gives it the ability to do so. Otherwise, to try and recover the charge, the landlord would have to bring a legal action if you refuse to pay voluntarily. The issue is what does the lease, or any rules incorporated into it, state?

3) As a practical matter, you may wish to consider to what degree you want to poison relations with your landlord over $50.


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