Abandoned vehicles

Whose responsibility is it to deal with abandoned vehicles?

The local authority has a duty to remove any vehicle abandoned on land in the open air or land that forms part of a highway under the Refuse and Disposal Amenity Act (Amenity Act) 1978, Section 99 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, and the Removal and Disposal of Vehicle (England) Regulations 2002 as amended.

If the abandoned vehicle is on private land permission must be given by the landowner before a vehicle can be removed.

The police also have statutory power to remove an abandoned vehicle, under sections 99 to 101 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 and the Disposal of Vehicle Regulations 1986, if it is in a potentially dangerous position, the vehicle is causing obstruction or danger, or it is contravening a parking restriction.

What is considered to be an abandoned vehicle?

An abandoned vehicle can be determined by considering

  • If it has current DVLA tax
  • No known owner or keeper
  • If it has a number plate
  • If it is badly damaged (dangerous conditioned)
  • Wrecked or burnt out.
  • If it has been left for a long period of time without moving (4 weeks)

At least 2 of these criteria must apply for the vehicle to be classed as abandoned.

Any vehicle displaying a current tax disc is not abandoned and cannot be dealt with by the council. If a vehicle is not taxed and does not meet any of the other above requirements, then the complainant should be advised to contact DVLA.

It is also not an offence for a vehicle to be parked outside someone’s property unless it meets 2 of the above criteria.

Sometimes vehicles may not move from a certain location for a long period of time because the owner has decided for whatever reason not to use the vehicle.

Amber Valley Borough Council does not take action against vehicles that are taxed unless they are being vandalised or considered to be in such a condition that it is a danger to the public. We could sticker the vehicle and if the owner is known, check their intentions for the vehicle and advise them of our concerns. However, we are unable to take any further action.

Abandoned vehicles are to be distinguished from nuisance vehicles, which may create a disturbance, but have not been abandoned. For instance, a car may be parked on someone else’s land without their permission, causing inconvenience to the owner, poorly parked, causing an obstruction or broken down.

Is it a criminal offence to abandon a vehicle?

Yes, abandoning a vehicle is illegal and can be dangerous. It can also ruin the appearance of a neighbourhood.

Abandoning a vehicle is a criminal offence carrying a maximum fine of £2500 or 3 months imprisonment or both. Council officers may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 as an alternative to prosecution.

The Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 enables the council to deal quickly and effectively with vehicles that are reported as abandoned and allows any vehicles that are in a dangerous condition, burnt out etc (where police have no interest) to be removed immediately and without prior notice.

Removal and Disposal of Vehicle (England) Regulations 2002 (as amended)

Under these regulations, if the council believes a vehicle meets the criteria to be considered abandoned a seven-day notice must be issued and attempts to contact the owner must be made. Only after the expiration of this period can the council take steps to remove the vehicle and destroy it.

A statutory 24-hour notice can be issued on a vehicle which the council believes is in a dangerous condition, wrecked or burnt out and has been left on public land or highway. The owner’s failure to remove it within the given time frame will entitle the council to have the vehicle removed and immediately destroyed. The council in this circumstance is not required to contact the owner but would do so if ownership could be established immediately. They can also contact the owner to reclaim the costs involved in the removal and or destruction of the abandoned vehicle.

Once a vehicle has been removed it can only be returned to the owner i.e. registered keeper on proof of ownership and the payment of a Fixed Penalty Notice and a release fee.

How do I report a vehicle that I suspect to be abandoned?

You can report a suspected abandoned vehicle by ringing the Community Support Unit on 01773 841335 or by completing our online reporting form. The following information will be required:

  • Vehicle make, model, colour and Registration number
  • Condition of the vehicle
  • Location of the vehicle
  • How long the vehicle has been there.

What happens to my report

The council aims to respond to all reports within 48 hours of the request being received.

  • A Community Officer will carry out checks to confirm if the vehicle is abandoned.
  • A "council aware" sticker will be placed on the vehicle asking the owner to contact the council to establish if the vehicle is abandoned.
  • Details of the registered keeper are obtained from the DVLA.
  • A 7-day notice will be placed on the vehicle and if not removed or responded to within that time the vehicle will be removed and placed into storage prior to disposal.

Once a vehicle has been removed it may only be released to the registered keeper on proof of ownership and the payment of a Fixed Penalty Notice and a release fee.

The Council has no powers to remove vehicles which are claimed by their owners, however, will make every effort to ensure that the vehicle is parked legally.

Need further help or information?

Contact the team directly on 01773 841335 or email envadmin@ambervalley.gov.uk