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How to Have an Abandoned Vehicle Removed Legally (and Illegally)

By Nicola Smith on April 29, 2020 in News

Anyone need a new set of mags? Photo: Peter Brock

Anyone who has attempted to park in the Bronte Cutting or the streets of Bondi and Coogee over summer will be aware that a parking spot in our local area is a rare and beautiful thing. The combination of high-density living, two-car families and homes without off-street parking has severely limited availability throughout the Eastern Beaches. For many residents, it is a choice between giving up the front yard to make way for a car spot or participating in a daily act of guerrilla warfare to secure parking in their street.
Peter from Coogee told The Beast that parking with time limits in high demand areas adds to the frustration.
“Parking is difficult,” Peter explained. “I’m a resident but I can’t get a parking permit, so I can find a spot but it’s limited.”
Another Coogee resident, Joanne, finds getting a park near her home almost impossible.
“At this time of year it’s not as bad, but in summer and in the evenings it’s really hard to find a park,” she explained.
With parking at such a high premium, cars that have been abandoned in residential streets are just one more pressure on valuable parking real estate.
Currently, residents can report a dumped vehicle to the New South Wales Police, Roads and Maritime Services or to their local council. Waverley, Randwick and Woollahra councils all have similar procedures for reporting abandoned vehicles on their websites, including some conditions that could prevent their removal.
A ‘frequently asked questions’ page on Randwick Council’s website states the following:
“Before Council can tow a vehicle, a thorough investigation needs to take place to ensure the vehicle is actually disowned. Once a vehicle is reported as abandoned, Council waits for a period of 28 days before investigating. If the car is still there, Council will gather information such as registration, make and model of the car. Council will also place a sticker on the vehicle to alert the owner that the vehicle is under investigation. Council will contact the last registered owner of the vehicle. If no reply is received from the owner, and a significant amount of time has passed, the vehicle may be towed. It will be taken to our nominated auction house where it’s kept for a period of at least 35 days before it is sold through auction.”
Joanne followed this process and successfully had abandoned vehicles removed from her street.
“I’ve reported two cars dumped on our street and they’re both gone now,” Joanne told The Beast. “One had clothes and bags in it, like someone had left the country and just dumped it there.”
However, many local residents have still been finding it difficult to have a dumped vehicle removed. Peter has found that dumped cars do tend to stick around. Residents in nearby Clovelly say that cars reported to the council multiple times have stayed around for more than a year in some cases.
As frustrating as the practice is, in some cases it may not be possible to have an abandoned vehicle removed at all. Complexities surrounding the removal of someone else’s legal property make it difficult to have them relocated.
One of the flaws in the removal process arises when the abandoned vehicle’s owner replies to the council’s initial phone call or removes the sticker from their vehicle. If this is the case then the council can’t legally tow the vehicle, which is the situation with a blue Commodore that has been rotting on Thorpe Street, Clovelly, for well over a year now.
Where legal process fails, however, alternative tactics should do the trick. A couple of pineapples in the back pocket of your local tow truck driver* may still be the fastest way to win your parking spot back from the junk-filled bomb at the end of your street.
*This is illegal.


  1. Simple way of stoppin gthis is to do what many other countries do , make it illegal to park an unregistered vehicle on a public highway.
    If parked illegally it may be towed ! The owner contacted and if no answer after a few weeks ( accruing storage fee’s and tow fee) it gets sold at auction,
    Its just nsw backwards laws that stop this course of action, other states in australia remove dumped or abandoned vehicles quickly

    Posted by: simon | May 3, 2020, 8:22 PM |

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  2. If you contact the NSW police, they will simply run a vehicle registration check. If the vehicle is not stolen or somehow linked
    to an investigation (such as being used in an armed robbery) they will generally refer you to your local council.
    The local council will sometimes stick a sticker to the vehicle and wait 28-30 days. If the vehicle is still there after 28-30 days
    they will then include it in the list to be towed away which can take a few days or weeks. Often the actual owner of the vehicle is
    uncontactable and may no longer be in Australia.

    Posted by: Jasonb84 | March 21, 2021, 5:03 PM |

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