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Disposing of cars abandoned on private property – not so easy it turns out

By NoAddedMSG - 14 September 2011 20

About six weeks back, some delightful people dumped a stolen car in our car park and torched it. The AFP and Fire Brigade attended at the time, and we were told at that point the car had already been reported stolen before it turned up on fire in our car park. I rang the AFP two days later and enquired who was responsible for disposing of the car, and was told it was the owner or the car’s problem. A week later it was still in our car park, so I rang the AFP and they said they would get in touch with the owner again and ask them to remove the vehicle. (And by the way, I believe them when they said they would call, I’ve had a number of positive experiences with the AFP and I have the kind of job where I have to call them about something on average once a month.)

Now unfortunately, you can’t just dispose of any old vehicle you like, you have to be able to prove that you are the legal owner of the vehicle and that you have the right to dispose of it. If you can’t prove that, there are processes which have to be followed.

After about two weeks of this car sitting in our car park, the standard fax was sent to the Canberra Rangers/Canberra Connect declaring the car abandoned and requesting it be removed. (We expected to be charged a fee for this, but were happy to wear it just to get the car out of the car park.)

A month after that the car was still there so I called the Canberra Rangers, only to be told that as the car is on private property, they can’t remove it. I was told I would have to seek legal advice and proceed through the “Unclaimed Goods” Act, which involves taking out advertisements in the local paper asking the owner to come forward, before then applying to the courts to have it declared that we have the legal right to dispose of the car.

This is a rather frustrating situation. I can’t find out who owns the car and track them down, but the Rangers could, so I do feel they are in a much better position to sort this out than I am.

If the tyres hadn’t melted, I would be sorely tempted to just roll the car out to the road verge and leave it there on public property, where it then becomes something the Rangers could deal with.

I would very much like to play things by the book and work within the system, but systems have to be sensible and usable before they can be followed and it seems ridiculous that I have to get the lawyers involved to sort out what I am assuming is a fairly common problem.

Has anyone else ever had to sort out getting rid of an abandoned car on private property?

What’s Your opinion?


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20 Responses to
Disposing of cars abandoned on private property – not so easy it turns out
what_the 5:31 pm 14 Sep 11

ConanOfCooma said :

You want it gone, no questions asked?

Call a metal recycling company – I’ve had several cars picked up in my time, and they never want Proof Of Ownership.

Drop them a line, tell them where the car is, and they will tell you when they will be there. When they arrive, and say “Are we right to take this car?” simply say “Yessiree Bob!” – Car gone.

Yep, i’ve literally driven a car into a metal recycling place, amazed that they didn’t ask me for any ID whatsoever (and yes it was my car). Just hand the keys over and sweet! As the price of metal has risen significantly, you’ll find that many metal recyclers will come pick the car up for you, free of charge.

00davist 3:44 pm 14 Sep 11

Thumper said :

Just whack a tow rope on it and skull drag it out into the street in the middle of the night. Make sure it’s positioned across the middle of the road. It will get removed the next morning!

I was going to say ‘skull drag’ it but didn’t think that anyone would know what I was talking about.

I had similar initial thought, but this really sounds like a parking lot job for a complex, and skull dragging all the way to the street could be quite a fair distance, skull dragging is not always that great for cement, not to mention the noise at that ime of night.

Still, if you recon no one would bother you about the cement scratches, maybe give it a whack while everyones at work?

Thumper 3:39 pm 14 Sep 11

Just whack a tow rope on it and skull drag it out into the street in the middle of the night. Make sure it’s positioned across the middle of the road. It will get removed the next morning!

I was going to say ‘skull drag’ it but didn’t think that anyone would know what I was talking about.

Jungle Jim 2:48 pm 14 Sep 11

Secure it with a bike lock, turn your back and wait. Snake should be past to relieve you of it in mere seconds…

Seriously though – I think contacting the insurance company (if you can determine which one) is a good next step.

Henry82 2:42 pm 14 Sep 11

to be brutally honest, i’d just do the naughty thing and just wheel it onto the street.

ConanOfCooma 2:36 pm 14 Sep 11

You want it gone, no questions asked?

Call a metal recycling company – I’ve had several cars picked up in my time, and they never want Proof Of Ownership.

Drop them a line, tell them where the car is, and they will tell you when they will be there. When they arrive, and say “Are we right to take this car?” simply say “Yessiree Bob!” – Car gone.

00davist 1:57 pm 14 Sep 11

troll-sniffer said :

The other option is to make sure the rego details and compliance plate disappears, ring one of the scrap metal guys and ask them to remove ‘your’ car. Don’t even mention that it’s not yours. Chances are they’ll be happy to get the metal. As the car has zero value as is, I don’t think you would ever have anyone coming forward claiming that you disposed of something of value!

+1 for this idea!

Should work, last time i had a need to go to the wrechers, the chap gave me a nice little chat about how little wreckers care about where it comes from, as long as you dont give them reasont to want to know.

I found it an odd conversation to be honest, I was there to buy a visor?!?!

troll-sniffer 1:37 pm 14 Sep 11

If you’re in a body corporate which it sounds like you are, ‘our carpark’ and all that, the body corporate should have procedures in place to deal with an abandoned vehicle. I know ours does, I think a letter advising the vehicle is unregistered/abandoned has to be delivered to each unit giving 45? days to remove said vehicle. At the end of the period, the scrap metal guys are contacted and the vehicle is removed.

I believe that the strata manager also has the right to get the name and address of the last registered owner form the gubmnt to send them a letter as well.

If you’re not in a body corporate, you should still be able to follow the same procedure, and the gubmnt should either have to provide you with the owner’s contact details or agree to contact them on your behalf, same story, 28? 30? 45? days to remove it and then you can ring up the scrap metal guys.

The other option is to make sure the rego details and compliance plate disappears, ring one of the scrap metal guys and ask them to remove ‘your’ car. Don’t even mention that it’s not yours. Chances are they’ll be happy to get the metal. As the car has zero value as is, I don’t think you would ever have anyone coming forward claiming that you disposed of something of value!

cocopops 1:31 pm 14 Sep 11

Is it in your car park/ driveway or do you live in a block of units/ townhouses that has a visitors carpark? If the latter there will be a body corporate that will deal with the issue, someone parked their unregistered car in the guest spot of our units and within 3 weeks the body corporate had sent out letters to all of us saying if the car wasnt moved within a month they would get it removed, sure enough within a month it was gone.

Thumper 1:23 pm 14 Sep 11

I would very much like to play things by the book

Except that this approach rarely seems to work.

Get a four wheel drive and drag the burnt out vehicle onto the nature strip and leave it.

Captain RAAF 1:16 pm 14 Sep 11

Just whack a tow rope on it and skull drag it out into the street in the middle of the night. Make sure it’s positioned across the middle of the road. It will get removed the next morning!

Grail 1:04 pm 14 Sep 11

Of course, the act of repositioning the stolen, burnt, abandoned vehicle out into public property would probably stumble rough-shod through a dozen ordinances on its own.

p1 12:57 pm 14 Sep 11

If you could find out who the owner is, you could:

– start charging them parking. Depending on where in Canberra you are that would be anywhere from $8/day up to about $50/day;
– get a flatbed truck to take it and place it in their driveway; or
– cut it into small pieces and mail them to the owner;

Seriously though, do you know who it belongs too? Because I’m sure that the owner would be happy with the $100 the metal recyclers would give them, and would happily sign it away.

PBO 12:22 pm 14 Sep 11

Roll it out onto the street, if it is on your property and you do not want it there then i think you will be right. Make the rangers deal with it.

andym 12:21 pm 14 Sep 11

Assuming it was comprehesively insured then its a write off which would make it the insurance companies property. Another avenue to explore?

Start issuing parking fines and send them to the owner!

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