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Help I Have An Abandoned Car and Trailer Parked On My Property - How Can I Remove It?

This question and variations are posed to the BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association a number of times a year by operators faced with removing an unwanted vehicle on their property. The operators pose the question as they are not sure what authority they have to act and who can assist them in removing the vehicle.

The answer lies in section 192 of BC's Motor Vehicle Act, which actually includes details on how to handle the parking of vehicles without consent of the owner.

The section reads:

Parking on private property

192 (1) If a motor vehicle or trailer is left without the occupier's consent on private property in a municipality or treaty lands or for a period exceeding 72 hours on private property not in a municipality or treaty lands, the owner of the motor vehicle or trailer is deemed to have authorized and empowered the occupier to be the owner's agent for the purpose of towing it to a place of storage and of storing it.

(2) The agent has a lien against the motor vehicle or trailer for all reasonable advances made or charges incurred in connection with the towing and storing of it in the course of the agency.

(3) The procedure respecting enforcement of the lien must be governed by the Warehouse Lien Act.

Removing a Vehicle in an Incorporate Area

The Motor Vehicle Act allows that if your property is within an incorporated municipality and the owner of the vehicle or trailer parks it on your property without your consent, you can immediately have it towed to a storage compound. However, some municipalities have bylaws that add requirements to the rights given under the act to remove unauthorized vehicles. For instance you may be required to install signage advising the unauthorized vehicles will be removed and some municipalities may require you to have a permit.

Removing a Vehicle in an Unincorporated Area
If your property is located in an unincorporated area the vehicle must be parked without your consent for at least 72 hours and you do not have local bylaws to worry about.

Recovering Costs

If you have the vehicle towed, the owner cannot recover it without paying the costs you incurred to have the vehicle towed and stored. If the owner doesn't claim the vehicle you can use the Warehouse Lien Act to dispose of it to cover your costs.

Reprinted from the Dogwood Express February 2010

Background Photo Credit: Destination British Columbia

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