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28 Nov 2023

To Tow or Not to Tow?


Scott Zucker

Founding Partner

The issue of towing at self-storage facilities must be broken down into two very separate areas. The first concerns a tenant who has a lease to store their property (a car, boat, trailer, or recreational vehicle) but has defaulted on its rent. The second is when someone has simply placed their property on the facility premises without the legal right or permission to do so.

Let’s address the first. Under the majority of self-storage state statutes around the country, if a tenant is renting a space (either enclosed or outside) and has not paid the rent, the law permits the self-storage operator to tow the vehicle in lieu of having to go through a lien foreclosure process involving a titled piece of property.

The second scenario is the one that most operators ignore until it is too late. What should an operator do with a vehicle (or boat) that is simply left on its property without a lease? Maybe it’s a vehicle or trailer parked in a space without a lease or, more often, parked by a tenant or visitor in the driveway of the storage facility or in front of rented spaces without permission of the operator.

Nonconsensual towing without notice could get a storage facility operator into trouble if the towed party claims lack of advance notice. Absent signage, a posting left on the vehicle’s windshield or door providing 48-to-72-hour advance notice and an opportunity to cure might be sufficient.

This article was originally published in Self Storage Legal Monthly Minute by Scott Zucker, September 2023

Scott Zucker is a founding partner in the Atlanta law firm of Weissmann Zucker Euster Morochnik & Garber P.C. and has been practicing law since 1987. Scott represents self-storage owners and managers throughout the country on legal matters including property development, facility construction, lease preparation, employment policies and tenant claims defense.

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