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

UPDATED: Jun 3, 2011

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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