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How we deal with suspected abandoned vehicles
If you find what you think could be an abandoned car or trailer, you can report it to Council. Before you report it, you may wish to undertake a free registration check via Service NSW using the NSW plate number of the vehicle.
Council's Rangers can investigate abandoned vehicles. The investigation to determine if a vehicle is abandoned is carried out under the Impounding Act 1993 (the Act). Council may not proceed with an investigation if the particular vehicle is in good condition, legally parked, registered and not causing an obstruction or danger to the public.
Once a vehicle is reported, Council waits for a period of 28 days before investigating further. This is because the owner of the vehicle may be a resident of a nearby street and could be away on a long-term holiday. Council won't impound a vehicle within this period, unless it causes an obstruction or danger.
The following steps take place when a vehicle is thought to be abandoned.
1) The vehicle is reported
If you wish to report a vehicle you think might be abandoned you can do so by contacting Council's Call Centre on 1300 722 542 during business hours, Monday to Friday or report it at email@example.com. Council will also proactively investigate vehicles that appear to be abandoned.
2) Council investigates
Rangers will inspect the vehicle and gather details - registration, make, model, etc. A sticker will be placed on the vehicle to alert the owner that the vehicle is under inspection. Council will contact RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) to determine the registered owner. A letter will be sent to the last registered owner. If no contact is received from the owner, Council may decide to tow the vehicle after 15 days have passed.
It's important to note that although a vehicle may be unregistered, it does not mean the vehicle is abandoned. Council often receives customer requests regarding unregistered vehicles, as it is commonly thought that an unregistered vehicle is 'abandoned'. However, the registration status of a vehicle is not indicative that an owner has abandoned the motor vehicle and registration is not a consideration within the provisions of the Act.
3) Claims of ownership
If, during the course of Council's investigation, the owner (or a person acting on behalf of the owner) of a vehicle, contacts Council and claims ownership of the vehicle, then Council is unable to determine the vehicle is abandoned. Therefore, Council will be unable to remove the vehicle, except in certain cases where it poses a hazard to pedestrians and other road users.
4) Towing the vehicle
If the vehicle is unregistered and no owner has come forward to make a claim on the vehicle, Council may consider the vehicle to be abandoned. In this case, the vehicle is towed to our nominated auction house where it is kept for 35 days before it is released through auction. Before it is released, the auction house contacts Council to see if it permitted to auction off the vehicle.
5) Police enforcement
The Council's officers are not authorised to enforce matters relating to the registration of a vehicle. This authority is provided to NSW Police. Information regarding the enforcement of unregistered vehicles by the Police, may be obtained by contacting Maroubra Police on 9349 9299.
6) Public vs private property
It's important to note that this type of investigation can only be conducted when the vehicle is in a public place. Council officers can not deal with abandoned vehicles located on private property. Abandoned vehicles located on private land need to be managed by the land owner and occupier of the premises.
Failure to comply with the Impounding Act 1993 can result in fines and penalties being imposed on a person who abandons a motor vehicle in a public place.
If you wish to report a vehicle you think might be abandoned you can do so by contacting Council's Call Centre on 1300 722 542 during business hours, Monday to Friday or report it at firstname.lastname@example.org