Legal Blog

Complying with the Montgomery County Towing Regulations

The real estate/landlord/commercial parking world was recently rocked by the Yang v. G&G Towing case before the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland, Case No. 403885-V.  In that case, 25,000 individuals whose vehicles had been towed by G&G Towing sought damages against G&G for violations of the Montgomery County Code (“Code”).  A lot of legal proceedings followed, the result of which was a claim against clients of G&G alleging that G&G’s clients (that means YOU) were liable for the actions of G&G pursuant to the terms of the contract between client and G&G.

The lesson: be sure you comply with the Code and are signing a contract that is in compliance with the Code.

If you are engaged in trespass towing in Montgomery County – towing of a vehicle from private property without the consent of the vehicle owner – then you must have a proper contract with a towing company and meet the requirements set forth by the Code before any towing can occur without fear of violation.  The Code provides for a penalty of $500 for the first violation and $1,000 for each violation thereafter.

Many towing companies offering services in Montgomery County have basic contracts that do not comply with the very specific regulations of Montgomery County, even in light of the Yang case.  The Code requires that the following provisions be included in any contract with a towing company:

(1)   a statement that the property owner is responsible for posting proper and sufficient signage to notify the public of parking restrictions;

(2)   a statement that the property owner is responsible for expressly authorizing the towing of a particular vehicle, except as allowed under 30C-5(c)(10), and that the existence of this contract does not constitute express authorization;

(3)   a statement that a property owner or towing company is liable for a violation of any duty imposed on the property owner or towing company by Chapter 30C, and the damages payable are three times the amount of any towing, release or storage fees charged;

(4)   a statement that a property owner and a towing company are jointly and severally liable for a violation of any duty imposed on the towing company by Chapter 30C, with a right of contribution or indemnification; and

(5)   a statement that any violation of any duty imposed on the property owner or towing company by Chapter 30C subjects the property owner or towing company to a potential fine of up to $1,000.00.

Code, Chapter 30C-4(e).

The Code also requires that both the tow company and the property owner/manager take certain actions.1

The tow company must:

  • Be registered with the State Maryland and the Montgomery County Office of Consumer Protection
  • Be insured
  • Not charge more than the maximum rate set by the Code and a schedule of rates must be filed with the Office of Consumer Protection
  • Have a valid, Montgomery County compliant contract on file and available for inspection by the vehicle owner or the police
  • Only perform a tow with proper authorization from the property owner or expressly authorized agent
  • Obtain photographic evidence of the violation or cause of the tow
  • Notify the Police Department with jurisdiction over the property before removing the vehicle from the property
  • Maintain all tow records for at least one year and make them available for inspection by the vehicle owner, Office of Consumer Protection, or the Police
  • Notify the Police if a vehicle remains for more than 72 hours
  • Follow the redemption and storage procedures set forth in the Code

 

The property owner/manager must:

  • Have a valid, Montgomery County compliant contract with a tow company and keep a copy of it on file and available for inspection by the vehicle owner or the police.
  • Register each commercial parking lot with the Office of Consumer Protection
  • Provide annual reports to the Office of Consumer Protection
  • Have proper signage as required by the Code
  • Provide a tow authorization form prior to requesting a tow
  • Obtain photographic evidence of the violation or cause of the tow
  • Maintain all tow records for at least one year and make them available for inspection by the vehicle owner, Office of Consumer Protection, or the Police

 

For more information, you can also visit Montgomery County’s Office of Consumer Protection website here.

I am available to work with you to ensure that your current towing contract, and the tow company itself, is in full compliance with Montgomery County Code provisions.  Please reach out with any questions, I am here to help.

Please contact me at apallozzi@offitkurman.com.

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1 This is a non-exclusive list.  To be sure that you have met all of the requirements, please reference the Chapter 30C of the Montgomery County Code and/or contact your lawyer.

 

 

 

ABOUT ANGELA PALLOZZI

apallozzi@offitkurman.com | 410.209.6427

Angela Pallozzi works with business owners to create policies that are beneficial to their businesses. She regularly helps her clients with transactions, negotiations, disputes, litigation, and all types of daily business matters. Ms. Pallozzi advises business owners to prevent litigation and, should litigation occur, leads them through every step of the process to reach the best resolution. She works closely with her clients to understand their challenges and resolve them in the most efficient and effective manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN

Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With over 150 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eleven offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Virginia, Washington, DC, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York City regions. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.

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