How local councils and national park authorities should deal with the removal of abandoned vehicles from land in the open air and roads.
Duty to remove abandoned vehicles
Local councils and national park authorities must remove abandoned vehicles from:
- land in the open air
- roads (including private roads)
When removing a vehicle from land in the open air, you:
- cannot charge the landowner occupier
- must give the landowner or occupier 15 days’ notice that you propose to remove the vehicle
- cannot remove the vehicle if the landowner or occupier objects during the notice period
The 15 day notice period does not apply if the vehicle is abandoned on a road or highway.
You do not have to remove an abandoned vehicle from land in the open air if the cost of moving it to the nearest highway is high (for example, special machinery is needed).
You cannot be held liable for damage resulting from abandoned vehicles.
Read the guidance on how you can take legal action against businesses for nuisance parking.
Find vehicle owners
You can get information about a vehicle’s registered keeper from the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA).
Decide if a vehicle is abandoned
You must decide if a vehicle is abandoned. This is likely if at least one of the following applies:
- it has no keeper on DVLA’s database and is untaxed - check vehicle tax online
- it’s stationary for a significant amount of time
- it’s significantly damaged, run down or unroadworthy - for example, has flat tyres, missing wheels or broken windows
- it’s burned out
- a number plate is missing
You can legally enter land (at a reasonable time) to investigate and remove abandoned vehicles.
Penalties you can give
You can penalise people who abandon vehicles or parts of vehicles on roads or land in the open air by either:
- issuing a fixed penalty notice (if the offence is relatively minor)
- prosecuting them
Disposal of an abandoned vehicle
You can dispose of an abandoned vehicle immediately if either of the following apply:
- it’s only fit to be destroyed
- it has no number plates or tax disc (even an expired one)
In all other cases, you must try to find the owner.
If you find the owner, you must give them 7 days’ written notice to collect the vehicle before you can dispose of it. You must return a vehicle to its owner if they claim it and they pay the costs of removal and storage.
If you cannot find the owner, or the owner fails to comply with a notice to collect the vehicle, you may dispose of the vehicle.
You can dispose of an abandoned vehicle as you see fit. For example, you can sell it at auction or have it destroyed at an authorised treatment facility.
If you sell it, the owner can claim the money raised up to a year later (minus your removal, storage and disposal costs).