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What You Should Know

Attention Students: What is Roam Towing and What Are Your Rights in Orange County?

With Orange County being home to the University of Central Florida, the largest university in the country in terms of enrollment, and several other academic institutions, this is an important reminder to students regarding a little known and often overlooked local ordinance that protects them from predatory towing practices. Although you may not be familiar with the term “roam towing,” it is a practice that has been mostly banned in Orange County. Roam towing occurs when tow companies enter business establishments and multi-family residential communities in the wee hours (Midnight – 7:00am) and tow vehicles for various infractions, ranging from expired license plate tags to improper decals to parking with a tire slightly on one of the parking lines without first getting individual written authorization from the owner of the property for each tow.

Interestingly enough, the Orange County Board of Commissioners has banned this practice for all types of properties other than those designated for “student housing parking.” However, tow companies must adhere to heightened regulations when engaging in this practice.

So what are the heightened regulations when it comes to this stealthy practice? Orange County regulates “roam towing” in Chapter 35 Article II Division 3 of the Orange County Code Ordinances. The ordinance allows owners of properties designated as “student housing” to contract with towing companies so that the towing company can remove unauthorized or violating vehicles from the properties without a verified request from the property owner between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 7:00am. However, if a property owner elects to utilize roam towing there are several requirements the property owner and the towing company must abide by in addition to standard towing regulations. These requirements are as follows:

  • The words “Roam Towing In Effect, 12:00 midnight – 7:00 a.m. Vehicles and vessels may be towed without prior authorization from property management” must be found on the property’s tow away notice signs.
  • The property must amend its towing agreement to provide for roam towing between the hours of 12:00 midnight – 7:00 a.m.
  • A photograph of the vehicle being towed must be taken by the towing company and maintained for at least one year.
  • Residential leases for the property must contain notice language regarding the fact that roam towing will take place between the hours of 12:00 midnight – 7:00 a.m.
  • At the entrances to the residential property there must signage indicating where the property’s parking rules can be read by residents and guests.

Keep in mind that these requirements are in addition to other Florida Statutes and Orange County Ordinances which regulate towing and are only applicable for towing between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 7:00 a.m. at “student housing” properties. These regulations also do not apply if the municipality in which the vehicle was towed has its own regulations regarding towing.

Unfortunately, all too often, students will fall victim to roam towing while parking overnight at a friend’s apartment complex and not realize that the property owner and towing company didn’t follow the heightened regulations. The next time you wake up to find your car has been towed from an apartment complex, check to make sure these heightened regulations were followed or call Fasig |Brooks for a free initial consultation regarding illegal towing.