Abandoned and Untaxed Vehicles

The Council has a duty to remove motor vehicles unlawfully abandoned on any land in the open air. The council can recover costs from the owner (unless he/she can show they did not know it had been abandoned) or from the person who abandoned it.

If the cost of removing an abandoned vehicle is unreasonably high, (including on private land), this duty is removed. This is decided on a case-by-case basis.

What is an abandoned vehicle?

There is no legal definition of abandoned and our officers have the freedom to use their discretion when making decisions on abandoned vehicles.

For each vehicle we always consider the circumstances and other evidence. For example, we look at:

  • if it is untaxed
  • if it has no current keeper
  • if it has been left for a significant amount of time
  • if it is badly damaged, run down or unroadworthy
  • if it is burnt out
  • if it has one or more of its number plates is missing
  • if it contains waste
  • if it has been vandalised
  • if it has flat tyres
  • if it is unlocked
  • if it has broken windows
  • if it has mould growing on the inside or outside

This is not a full list and a vehicle does not have to match all of the list to be considered abandoned.

A vehicle can be abandoned even if it has current road tax (vehicle excise duty) or has been declared off-road (SORN).

However, a vehicle will not be considered abandoned solely on the grounds that it is:

  • untaxed
  • does not have a valid MOT certificate
  • poorly parked
  • causing an obstruction
  • involved in residential parking disputes
  • broken down

Is it a criminal offence to abandon a vehicle?

Yes, under the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978, the owner can be prosecuted by the local authority for abandoning a vehicle. A fine of up to £2,500 and/or three months in prison can be imposed. However, as an alternative to prosecution, a fixed penalty notice can be issued to the owner.

In addition, the owner is liable for the costs incurred by the local authority in removing, storing and or destroying the vehicle.

It should be noted that a vehicle is not abandoned until the Council is satisfied of that fact and need not act simply because someone claims it is abandoned.

What if the vehicle is parked outside my house?

There is no automatic right to a space outside your property. If the vehicle has road tax, a valid MOT certificate, insurance and it is not in the way, it can park there legally.

What if the vehicle is dangerous?

If you think a vehicle is dangerous and is a risk to members of the public, please report it to the Police.

How do I report an untaxed vehicle?

You can check this online by visiting check vehicle tax.

If you see an untaxed vehicle on the public highway you can be report it to:

  • the DVLA on 0300 790 6802; or
  • Redcorn Ltd on 0208 2169657

The road tax must have expired by at least two months before it may be removed with the permission of the DVLA.

How do I report a vehicle without an MOT?

The Council is not responsible for vehicles without an MOT, these are dealt with by the police and can only be reported to the police if its being used or parked on the public highway.

You can check if a vehicle has an MOT online by visiting check the MOT status.

How do I report an abandoned vehicle?

If the vehicle has road tax, a valid MOT certificate, is correctly parked and not in a dangerous condition it is not an abandoned vehicle.

If you think a vehicle may be abandoned it can be reported to us by completing the online form.

If your vehicle is clamped or towed away for being untaxed, please contact Redcorn Ltd on 0208 2169657.

How do I get my vehicle released or removed vehicle back?

Vehicles can be released or reclaimed by contacting Redcorn Ltd directly on 0208 2169657.

A release fee (and storage fees if removed) may be payable before the vehicle is released.

For full details on vehicle removal can be found in our Abandoned Vehicles and Vehicle Removal Policy.

Contact Parking, Travel & Roads

Telephone: 01702 215003

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