Unauthorised Parking in Private Property with Warning Signs - Is Towing A Legal Option?

Hi all,

I live in an apartment building (VIC) which has secured gates. I always get random people parking in my spot which I assume they just tailgate other cars to come in and find a random spot to park it without thinking. The issue has been going on for years and Body Corporate has tried to resolve this issue by installing a swipe near the exit gate which requires residents swipe. Well, people just wait at the exit and tailgate others out, which is not a very smart idea.

Anyway, I've seen this sign posted everywhere in the car park and also one outside of the car park entrance. I've done some research online and have seen some people saying towing from a private property is illegal as they have no rights (not sure about this). I'm just wondering does putting up these signs actually give you the right to tow away unauthorised vehicle parked in private car bay, if one day I want to go down that path? If so, are there any legislation online that's stating the rules? Or is this sign alone sufficient?

Link to image:

So I’ve called the towing company. They said I need to fill out some forms on their website and provide evidence that the car spot belongs to me (either lease agreement or any proof), pictures to show that the car spot indeed has car lot number and a sign showing it belongs to apartment number x, then they are happy to tow it at the car owners expense.

So I guess it must be legal for them to do that?


  • +2 votes

    Take a photo (make sure the number plate is visible and that you can see that the car is blocking the entrance) and call the council. Ask them to tow the vehicle away.
    Sit back and relax.

    • +7 votes

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear in my post. The car isn’t blocking any entrance/exit. It’s parked in my car spot which is my private property. Not sure if I have any merits to tow it? I’m assuming it is legal/allowed that’s why they have these signs put up?

      • +3 votes

        Sorry for not understanding, it's late and I am tired.

        It’s parked in my car spot which is my private property. Not sure if I have any merits to tow it?

        This article from a law firm suggests that cars can be towed if they are on private property. That could be wrong though.

        Perhaps try to gather CCTV footage if your building has cameras

      • +19 votes

        Call the tow company? They'd know not to do anything illegal

        Not saying towies are fine upstanding citizens, but they'd know what was clearly illegal

        • +5 votes

          Yep did so. Refer to my update above. They will come and tow it and they said they’ve done it heaps of times. Must be okay then? :)


            @eason2946: As long as you have all the signs up that they asked about. You have to make it quite explicit that the area is a private parking spot.

            I would have several up saying "reserved for registration ZZZZZZZ". "Private property trespassers towed."


            my space is between 2 poles and I'd put up a plastic chain or rope between the poles.

            Alternatively, put a nail under a tyre so that when they reverse it gives them a slow leak.

            • +7 votes

              @brad1-8tsi: I don't think giving someone a puncture is legal or ethical

              Can easily serve them justice without breaking the law

              • +2 votes

                @TEER3X: You are correct. It is neither legal or ethical but when all else fails…

                When I was at the tyre place we had a huge parking area. We were next door to a hotel. We'd come in on Saturday morning and cars were parked in front of the hoist bays. We'd jack them up and drag them onto the street and let fate deal with it. That probably wasn't legal or ethical either.

          • +1 vote

            @eason2946: You found your answer /end thread.

      • +4 votes

        get a bollard

  • +3 votes

    There are at least two self-help type remedies to deal with the tort of trespass - abatement or distress damage feasant.
    One addresses the nuisance by removal - abatement. This is your towing scenario.
    The other by restraining the property - DDF. This is your wheel clamping scenario.
    Both raise potential issues.


      I’ve seen this exact sign in many private commercial parking as well (I.e Wilson or Secure Parking). Surely it’s legal for them to tow away unauthorised vehicles?

      It also states “By parking here you agree to these terms”. Doesn’t that constitute a contract?

      • -2 votes

        My understanding is that signs like that mean precisely nothing legally. To enter into a contract you must provide explicit consent ie. signing it. Those signs are just there to be scary.

        • +9 votes

          Yeah - you are completely wrong from a legal perspective, so good job to you and your upvoters.
          There is a whole line of cases - known rather creatively as the 'ticket cases', and extending to the famous English case of Thornton v Shoe Lane Parking - that establish that provided reasonable notice of the terms and conditions is provided either prior to or contemporaneously with the contract being entered into, those terms and conditions may be incorporated into the contract.
          This is particularly so when there is both reasonable notice of the condition, and a reasonable opportunity to decline to accept the terms.
          This approach essentially combines incorporation by notice with acceptance by conduct.
          So, no, signing is not required, and the notices MAY be contractually binding.

        • -1 vote

          Not secured to anything the person parking illegally will probably just steal it and stash it in their boot.


            @lint: Unlikely


              @knk: Unless it's @lint parking in your space..


                @ankor: Pesky @lint.

                I think as long as the person can't claim ignorance they're not going to park in your spot.


                  @knk: As the OP says, there's plenty of signage warning of being towed if a vehicle is parked without authorisation. I think it's already far beyond the point of claiming ignorance when they're tailgating people to get in and out of the carpark.

                  Does putting something in your parking space deter these people? Probably, if there are easier spaces for them to steal.

                  But if you've ever lived in an apartment or know someone who does, you know it's a bad idea to leave anything of value in the carpark, even in secured storage. I've even heard of security cameras installed to deter thieves being stolen.

                  People who steal other people's car spaces are thieves and they probably won't think twice about stealing other things too. Just sayin',


                    @lint: I wonder if there's an alternative like those ones that are lockable and swing upwards, but that you can fill with water or sand so that it can't be moved easily?

    • +14 votes

      3rd option - passive-aggressive note left on windscreen (check for dash cam first) threatening something random :

      • Park where you're not allowed and next time I'll let a tarantula crawl into your car
      • park where you're not allowed and I'll park you in. I'm unemployed so I hope you like public transport!
      • park where you're not allowed and we'll find out if my cousin Jimmy really can operate a forklift. Your car will look perfect on top of your mate's car!
      • Park where you're not allowed and your plates will come in handy for the next time I need fuel.

      Note that these are silly threats that cops wouldn't bother with 😉


      I was thinking the same thing - it's private property. Makes no difference (IMO, IANAL) if its your person or your vehicle. If you have no right to be there, you (your car) are (is) trespassing and the owner of that property has every right to remove you (your car).

    • +1 vote

      Section 90C of the Road Safety Act in Victoria makes it illegal for a person (who is not police or otherwise authorised) to wheel clamp or otherwise detain a vehicle, including on your own land.


        Section 90C of the Road Safety Act in Victoria

        Trespassing is unlawful under Section 9(1)(e ) of the Summary Offences Act 1966. Wheel clamp them and call it even.


          Wouldn't you rather them gone rather than immobilising them so they cannot leave?


            @DogGunn: Irresponsible drivers may continue to park there if they think they can get away with it. Wheel clamp them for a night or two. Op could also use four $10 bike locks as a cheaper option.


              @whooah1979: I reckon leaving a notice on the car that you've organised to have their car towed for the next time they park there would be more successful than clamping them.

              By clamping them, you can be sure they will definitely go to the police which brings them down on you, rather than them.


        That is because DDF is specifically abolished in Victoria.
        Abatement specifically remains available.

        • +1 vote

          Yes, wasn't saying anything about that.

          Just wanted to point out you were correct that there are issues with each.

      • +4 votes

        I think I read this advice on a previous OzBargain thread. -

        Wheel Clamp your own car and have "Do not not park or your car will be clamped!" signs displayed on it.

  • +20 votes

    If nothing else has worked, your best option is to install one of them lockable bollards.

    (Sure, it pushes the problem to someone else's spot, but that someone else aint going to let you park in their spot when yours is taken - so every man to themselves!).

    • +16 votes

      Yes, but only put the bollard in place after they've parked in your spot. Leave them locked in for a month.


        And leave a note saying $500 for the security guard to come to unlock it. Use your phone number or a fake number that does not exist, your choice.

  • +16 votes

    This was an issue in a building I used to live in and they installed a dual gate system which prevented tailgating, but it definitely slowed things down a lot. Basically once you swiped, it opened the door, but then you drive in and stop at a boom gate, once the door closes, the boom gate opens… thus preventing tailgating.

    • +1 vote

      Or they could do what I've seen some retirement villages do and have a sign asking people to stop after the gate and wait for it to close.

      But people are dicks and won't do it, so we need to put a gate in to make them.


        Realistically no one ever stopped at those. Or if they did, they were definitely the minority.

        (I’m not saying it’s a bad idea but honestly unless it’s more than just voluntary or people start to feel more vested, a sign probably will have limited value).

    • +1 vote

      This is exactly what they've got in my building. It works perfectly and I love it.

      (Except when you've got 20 residents trying to get in at the same time, it's a bit of a wait. But then nothing is perfect!)

  • +3 votes

    A box of nails should do the trick.

    • +1 vote

      This could be because a resident has sold day time parking and a swipe card.

      Reselling parking could be a violation of the terms of the bylaws.

    • +4 votes

      We had someone parking in our spot occasionally, so we left a nice note saying the spot is ours. When we parked in our spot, we got a note saying the spot is not ours. We contacted strata and in fact, the spot was not ours, but for of another apartment, which was sold recently and the previous owner did not have a car.
      So before you do anything make sure that spot is in fact your spot


        So did you find out which spot is rightfully yours? Was there a domino effect with other residents?

      • +2 votes

        We had a similar issue where the parking sports were numbered but that didnt correspond to the apartment numbers. So we were in apartment 33 but had spot 15. One day we came home and there was a car in our spot. Annoying, but we put a note on their windscreen and then next day when we came home the spot was empty so parked there but there was a note left on our windscreen saying that it was someone else's spot.

        After lots of this back and forth, we went to the body corporate and got the plans for the parking lot and which spots were owned by which apartments and found out we had the right spot, but i'm guessing other person moved into apartment 15 so just assumed they had spot 15.

  • +7 votes

    If your car space is allocated to your apartment, then the cheapest solution for you is to put a rubbish bin, old chair or box in the middle of the space with a clear sign on it saying this is private parking.
    On the sign you can say that any unauthorised parking will be towed away.

    This means that if someone decides to park in your spot they have to get out of their car and move the obstruction before parking in the spot.

    Most would avoid this as then they can't say they accidentally parked in your spot.

    • +3 votes

      True, but that means OP will have to move it every single time too. I prefer the tow truck approach as that means they wont keep coming back (assuming that's legal) and pretty sure it would be the offender that pays for the tow truck

  • +4 votes

    You could clamp the car and leave a note to the offender to contact you to remove them for a fee.

    If they don't approach you within a week or 2, then get it towed =) Bonus points if you start selling the car for parts

    Negative is they are in your spot longer but at least you get to meet the disrespectful bugger.

    PS I'm not sure if what I stated is 100% legal, but it would bring me pleasure and joy if I was in your position

  • +14 votes

    You could try making it inconvenient by letting down their tyres.

  • +7 votes

    Get something like this and lock it whenever you're not using it: https://www.barsec.com.au/products/car-parking/lok-up-parkin...
    I feel your pain, I have the same thing happen at our park space, and we rent it out so it can be a big problem (we have a lot of air bnb rentals near by and visitors dont care)


      We had to do these at work. Only one person has run into them so far….


      This looks great! Might considering getting this (the lock I mean, not the Mercedes)


      This actually looks like a good idea.

      However, to prevent the necessity for the legitimate spot owner to get out of their car, and unlock the mechanism every single time, perhaps some modifications could be made?

      I would envisage it being a spring-loaded or hydraulic mechanism to lay it down flat. And it could be locked with a remote-controlled relay like a garage door bolt.

      That way the owner could drive up to it, press their remote. This would release the lock. Then move their car forward gently touching the sign which would fold down flat.

      Hell… if I was an entrepreneurial type… or an inventive type…

  • +7 votes

    I used to work in the traffic section of a Council and this problem has come up a few times. Council cannot (and does not) tow vehicles. We contacted the police and they advised they weren't able to move the vehicle but could possibly contact the owner (that was even a maybe due to the protections under the privacy act). Basically the legislation (in NSW) doesn't stretch to these sort of situations.

    I think the easiest solution in this case would be to install a removable bollard in the middle of the space. Padlock would secure the bollard when you're out.

  • +6 votes

    If its different people, clamping, towing, vandalising will not solve anything, cause the next person will not know

    $29 free delivery


    Just liquid nails it down, should suffice for the majority.


    plus youll need this


  • +15 votes

    I'd be pretty surprised if it's just random people tailgating in and out.

    I bet it's other residents letting in their mates/family with the swipe card.


      most likely the case.
      Maybe OP should ask the body corporate manager to circulate the notice to every resident about the allocated parking first.

  • +1 vote

    Tow companies won't touch it. It's parked on private property. Council also won't touch it.

    You have the right to remove it off your property. However you cannot damage their vehicle or you'll be responsible. If you can safely move the vehicle off the property onto a public parking spot without damaging the vehicle then you're within your rights. Not many have the means to do this safely.

    Just let down all their tyres. Every. Single. Time. They'll move on.

    • +1 vote

      and unscrew the valves so that simple pump the tyres isn't possible

    • +1 vote

      If you can safely move the vehicle off the property onto a public parking spot

      Why not move it into a clearway. That way, it will get towed.

    • +2 votes

      @zeggie Refer to my update above. Tow company informed they will tow it and has done it regularly to many apartments in CBD which they partnered with which has their warning signs put up in the car parks.

      • -1 vote

        Check the paperwork.

        They'll be putting the onus on you. Not them. Usually all the mobs will steer clear even then.

        The slightest dent and you know what will happen…

        then they are happy to tow it at the car owners expense.

        Also they cannot just take the vehicle and "charge" the owner. There's no agreement or contract. There is with you and the tow company….

        Just watch out.

  • +11 votes

    Google “vehicle positioning jack”

    Buy some of these. If there is a car parked in your space, slide them under, roll the car somewhere else, remove the jacks and park your car.

    • +3 votes

      Have always wanted to get some of these for when we go to the footy, then move all the cars that are taking up 1.5 spaces closer together.


    Hey OP, is it usually the same car, or the same few cars? If so, most people will learn a lesson if you simply left a (normal) note.


      It's usually the same few cars but occasionally some random cars. However the frequency of unauthorised parking is so frequent that it is making me considering the towing option. I've tried leaving a note or put cone on it. People just ignored it.

      • +1 vote

        I've tried leaving a note or put cone on it. People just ignored it.

        Well in that case tow them to hell!!!!!!!!!

        If towing is indeed illegal the tow company will tell you that.

  • +4 votes

    i think i remember hearing that tow trucks can't tow cars from a private property because its considered "theft"

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