The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved a bill Tuesday that will limit predatory towing of vehicles parked on private properties.
Residents have complained about tow companies hiring watchdogs to spot where people park, wait for them to leave and tow their cars away as quickly as possible.
“Too many residents have been victims of the unscrupulous business practices of predatory towing,” said Councilmember Roger Berliner, the lead sponsor of the bill.
The new bill prohibits spotters from looking for vehicles to tow and business owners must post parking signs with clear language about regulations.
There are about 30,000 tows from private property in Montgomery County every year, according to Berliner, who said, “Towing is an extraordinary act, and it should only be done for legitimate reasons.”
Towing companies must also provide photo evidence that people broke the rules and provide a flat rate that owners can pay with cash or credit card to reclaim their vehicles under the provisions of the bill. An attendant must be present at the impound lot 24 hours a day, allowing owners to retrieve their vehicles at any time.
The bill will also set a maximum $25 fee for situations when a vehicle has been hooked up to a tow truck but the owner approaches the truck operator and asks for their vehicle not to be towed.
"This bill will not only help our residents but our businesses as well who lose customers as a result of predatory towing," Berliner said.