Questions about Vehicle Storage Lots and Impounded Vehicles
Who controls Vehicle Storage Facilities?
The Texas Department of License and Regulation (TDLR) is the States ruling and enforcement authority, which licenses both private and public Vehicle Storage Facilities. (VSF) If a vehicle is stored WITHOUT the owner’s permission, the vehicle storage facility must follow statute rules administered by TDLR. These rules relate to the care of the vehicle while stored at a vehicle storage facility (VSF). If the vehicle is stored WITH the owner’s consent, TDLR vehicle storage rules do NOT apply
My vehicle was taken to a storage facility without my consent. Is the vehicle storage facility required to be licensed?
Yes. - Vehicle storage facilities are required to obtain a license and follow statutes administered by TDLR regarding vehicle storage. However, these rules only apply IF the vehicle is stored without the vehicle owner’s consent.
My vehicle was towed from private property. How can I find out where it's being stored?
If the vehicle was towed from a private parking lot, you can call the telephone number listed on the tow-away signs in order to locate your vehicle. Vehicle storage facilities are required to report non-consent tows to local law enforcement within two hours after receiving the vehicle. You may want to contact the local law enforcement agency from the area where your vehicle was towed. The vehicle storage facility and the tow truck company may or may not be owned by the same company.
My vehicle is being stored with my consent. Do TDLR vehicle storage facility rules regarding storage apply?
No. If a vehicle is stored with the consent of the owner, the business is not required to have a vehicle storage facility license. Additionally, TDLR rules regarding facility lighting and fencing, maximum charges, notices mailed to the vehicle owner, vehicle release, and other rules do not apply.
How much can a vehicle storage facility charge me for storing my vehicle? Can the charges begin immediately or is there a "grace period?"
If a vehicle storage facility stores a vehicle without the vehicle owner’s consent, the vehicle storage facility may charge the following storage-related fee.
Between $5 and $20 for each day or part of a day for storage of the vehicle that is 25 feet in length or less, or $35 per day for a vehicle that exceeds 25 feet in length PLUS
Up to $50 for a notification fee – only if the vehicle is stored more than 24 hours and the required notice is mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the registered owner and lien holder PLUS
Up to $20 for an impound fee – if the vehicle storage facility takes certain actions, such as checking the vehicle registration records.
Vehicle storage facilities may begin charging storage fees from the time the vehicle arrives at the facility. No grace period is required. (Local bylaws may provide a grace period, check with city ordinance.)
Towing fees are not limited by state law but might be limited by city ordinance. (See towing fees)
Does the vehicle storage facility have to notify me that my vehicle is being stored?
Unless the vehicle has already been claimed by the owner (or the owner's representative), vehicle storage facilities must comply with the following notification requirements.
The vehicle storage facility is required by law to notify the last registered owner and lien holder of the vehicle storage. Notifications are mailed by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the addresses listed on the vehicle's registration records. If the owner has moved from this address but has not updated the vehicle registration records, the owner may not receive the notice.
If the vehicle is registered in Texas, the vehicle storage facility is required to mail the notice within 5 days of receiving the vehicle for storage; however it may not mail the letter within the first 24 hours of storage.
If the vehicle is registered in a state other than Texas, the vehicle storage facility is required to mail the notice within 14 days after storage. However, the vehicle storage facility may not be able to meet this deadline if there is a delay in getting the vehicle owner and lien holder’s addresses from the state where the vehicle is registered. Alternatively, the vehicle storage facility may publish the notice in a newspaper, but only if certain conditions apply.
I want to get my vehicle out of a storage facility. What items do I need to take with me to the storage facility?
The vehicle storage facility must release the vehicle to a person who provides the following:
Payment of all fees due, PLUS:
- A valid photo identification issued by the state or federal government (usually a drivers license), PLUS ANY ONE of the following eight items (to show proof of authority)
- A notarized power of attorney OR
- A court order OR
- A certificate of title OR
- A tax collector’s receipt and vehicle registration renewal card OR
- A notarized proof of loss claim of theft from an insurance company to show a right of possession OR
- Positive name and address information that corresponds to the information contained in TXDOT Vehicle Titles and Registration files OR
- A valid Insurance Certificate for the vehicle OR
- A TDLR-approved Affidavit of Right of Possession and Control (download pdf)
- The name and address on the identification and the proof of authority (one of the eight items listed above) must match.
I do not want to get my vehicle out of storage, yet I need to get my personal items out of the vehicle. What do I need to take to the vehicle storage facility?
The vehicle owner or owner’s authorized representative is allowed to remove personal items from the vehicle after presenting a valid photo, state or federally issued photo identification (such as a drivers license), PLUS any one of the seven proofs of authority (the seven items are listed in the previous question).
Personal property, such as clothes, medicine, and tools may be removed from the vehicle.
The vehicle may not be dismantled and parts may not be removed, so the vehicle owner may not remove items such as the engine, tires, or installed stereo.
Payment of towing and storage fees is not required before releasing personal property only.
The vehicle storage facility will require the person removing the items to give a receipt listing the items that were removed from the vehicle.
Law enforcement has a "hold" on my vehicle. Can I get my vehicle out of storage?
TDLR does not interfere with law enforcement holds on vehicles. If law enforcement puts a HOLD on a vehicle or its contents, TDLR does not determine whether the hold is appropriate. The vehicle owner must work with the law enforcement agency to get the hold released before the vehicle storage facility can release the vehicle or its contents.
I need to get my vehicle out of storage. Is the storage facility required to release my vehicle any hour of the day or night?
Vehicle storage facilities are not required to have an employee on site at all times. If the vehicle storage facility accepts vehicles 24 hours a day for storage, the storage facility must also be available to release vehicles 24 hours a day with one hour's notice. If the vehicle storage facility does not accept vehicles 24 hours a day for storage, the facility must be available to release vehicles with one hour’s notice between 8 a.m. and midnight on Monday through Saturday, and between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sundays (except nationally recognized holidays).
How can I contact TDLR for additional information?
When contacting TDLR, please provide your name, mailing address, telephone number, and e-mail address if applicable.
Contact TDLR Towing and Vehicle Storage Facilities by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can contact TDLR by telephone at 800-299-1700 (select option 3 from the automated telephone menu), or 800-803-9202 or 512-463-6599.
Contact TDLR by US mail at:
Texas Department of License and Regulation
Towing and Vehicle Storage Facilities
PO Box 12157
Austin, TX 78711