Illegal towing has become so rampant in Tallahassee that some apartment complexes are now advertising something I have never seen before – “NO ROAM TOWING.”  Although you may not be familiar with the term “roam towing,” if you have ever lived in an apartment complex (particularly in a college town) you are probably familiar with the practice. Roam towing is when tow companies enter communities in the wee hours of the morning and tow vehicles for various infractions. These infractions include having expired license plate tags, improper decals, and parking with a tire slightly on one of the parking lines.

What are the rules when it comes to this stealthy practice?

The Florida Statute regulating trespass towing is silent when it comes to the practice of roam towing.  However, over the past few years we’ve seen most municipal governments put in place ordinances to regulate this practice at the local level, Tallahassee included.

Tallahassee regulates “roam towing” in Chapter 20 Article V of the Tallahassee City Ordinances.  The ordinance allows owners of non-single family residential properties to contract with towing companies so that the towing company can remove unauthorized or violating vehicles from the properties without a verified request from the property owner between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 7:00am.  However, if a property owner elects to utilize roam towing there are several requirements by which the property owner and the towing company must abide in addition to standard towing regulations.  These requirements are as follows:

  • The words “Roam Towing, 12:00 midnight – 7:00 a.m.” must be found on the property’s tow away notice signs.
  • The property must amend its towing agreement on file with the Tallahassee Police Department to provide for roam towing between the hours of 12:00 midnight – 7:00 a.m.
  • A photograph of the vehicle being towed must be taken by the towing company and maintained for at least two years.
  • Residential leases for the property must contain notice language regarding the fact that roam towing will take place between the hours of 12:00 midnight – 7:00 a.m.

Keep in mind that these requirements are in addition to other Florida Statutes and Tallahassee Ordinances which regulate towing. They are only applicable for towing between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 7:00 a.m. at non-single family residential properties.

Unfortunately, students can fall victim to roam towing while parking overnight at a friend’s apartment complex. They don’t realize that the property owner and towing company didn’t follow the heightened regulations.

What can you do if your car is illegally towed?

The next time you wake up to find your car has been towed from an apartment complex, check to make sure these heightened regulations were followed. If you believe they were not followed, or if you’re not sure, call Barrett Fasig and Brooks for a free initial consultation regarding illegal towing.

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