Towing Vehicles from Residential Complexes & Single-Family Dwellings

By Kyle Cirac

             Residential property owners often must comply with several requirements when requesting towing of vehicles from their property.  Whether the vehicle is parked in an area marked for emergency vehicles or is unregistered, the property owner is responsible for taking the steps necessary to properly tow a vehicle.   This article addresses towing vehicles from real property under Chapter 706 and Chapter 487 of the Nevada Revised Statutes.  The statutes also pertain to towing and booting vehicles in casinos and parking garages, but this article does not discuss those issues.

             Under NRS 487.038, an owner or person in lawful possession of any real property may utilize the services of any tow car operator subject to the jurisdiction of the Nevada Transportation Authority to remove any vehicle parked in an unauthorized manner on that property to the nearest public garage or storage yard (NRS 487.038(1)).  The owner or person in lawful possession of real property may only have the vehicle towed if: (1) a sign must be displayed in plain view on the property declaring public parking to be prohibited or restricted in a certain manner; and (2) the sign shows the telephone number of the police department or sheriff’s office (NRS 487.038(1)(a)-(b)).

            In addition to displaying a sign on the property, the statute requires oral notice be given to the police department or sheriff’s office, whichever is appropriate, indicating: (1) the time the vehicle was removed; (2) the location from which the vehicle was removed; and (3) the location to which the vehicle was taken (NRS 487.038(2)).

             If the vehicle is parked in a space designated for persons with disabilities and the vehicle is not properly marked for such parking, a sign does not need to be displayed, although the police department or sheriff’s office must still be notified (NRS 487.038(3)).  If the vehicle is parked in an unauthorized manner on the property upon which a single-family dwelling is located, notice must again be given to the police department or sheriff’s office, but there is no requirement to display a sign (NRS 487.038(4)).

             NRS 706.4477 also pertains to towing vehicles.  If towing is requested by someone other than the owner, or an agent of the owner, of the vehicle or a law enforcement officer, the statute requires compliance with the following.  The person requesting the towing must be the owner of the real property from which the vehicle is towed or an unauthorized agent of the owner of the real property and must sign a specific request for the towing (NRS 706.4477(1)(a)).  In addition, the area must be posted in accordance with state or local requirements and notice must be given to the appropriate law enforcement agency (NRS 706.4477(1)(b)-(c)).

             The Reno Administrative Code specifies that a sign or signs displayed on a parking lot must: (1) be printed with contrasting white background and black lettering; (2) use uniform lettering legible to a person of normal visual acuity situated at least 25 feet distant from the sign; (3) be visible at night through the use of either direct or indirect light; (4) be placed on the parking lot in such a manner that it is in the field of view of all drivers entering and using the lot, be placed in such a manner so that the center of the sign is neither less than three nor more than six feet above the surface of the lot and not be placed so that it is obscured or obstructed by an intervening object including a lawfully parked vehicle; (5) be of sufficient quantity and placement to notify all users of the lot of its parking restrictions; and (6) include the name and telephone number of the towing or booting company available to facilitate the recovery of the vehicle by the vehicle owner, and of the local law enforcement agency which is notified, and the charge made for the recovery of an impounded vehicle (RAC 6.10.040(d)(1)-(6)).

             Not less than 48 hours before the tow, the owner of the real property or authorized agent must notify the owner or operator of the vehicle by affixing a sticker to the vehicle which provides the date and time after which the vehicle will be towed (NRS 706.4477(2)(a)(2)).

            After the 48 hour time period has elapsed, the owner of the real property or authorized agent may only have a vehicle towed: (1) because of a parking violation; or (2) if the vehicle is not registered pursuant to chapter 482 or 706 of NRS or in any other state (NRS 706.4477(2)(b)(1)-(2)).  The owner of the real property or authorized agent may not have a vehicle towed solely because the registration of the vehicle is expired (NRS 706.4477(2)(c)).

             One more circumstance where the owner may tow a vehicle is if the vehicle is blocking a fire hydrant, fire lane or parking space designated for the handicapped or if the vehicle is posing an imminent threat of causing a substantial adverse effect on the health, safety or welfare of the residents of the residential complex (NRS 706.4477(2)(b)(3)).  The requirement of affixing a sticker to the vehicle and waiting for 48 hours does not apply to this situation.

             If you need assistance in determining whether you are in compliance with the laws regarding towing vehicles from residential complexes or a single-family dwelling, contact an attorney.


* The foregoing information is of a general nature.  Property owners should contact their legal counsel with questions for advice concerning specific situations.