Can an apartment complex tow a vehicle for not having the licence plate on the bumper of the car?

UPDATED: Aug 8, 2011

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Can an apartment complex tow a vehicle for not having the licence plate on the bumper of the car?

Can a landlord require that the licence plate be attached to the bumper of a vehicle? If in the lease it only states that the car has to be registered. There is nothing else in the lease about it. Can they have the vehicle towed for that? The plates are currently displayed in the window of the car because the car is an older car and the spots for the plates are not the right size for the plates.

Asked on August 8, 2011 Iowa


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You are wise to have read your written lease concerning your rental and the provision that it requires that all vehicles in the complex have to be registered. This document controls your obligations to the landlord and vice versa unless in violation of state law.

If your vehicle had license plates conspicuously placed on its indows, there seems to be no justifiable reason for the apartment complex to have towed your car. The lease does not require license plates, only regsitration, and the license plates were in plain view with presumed current regsitration tags affixed to them.

I would write a letter to the apartment complex about what happended, why it had your car towed and request an explanation for its actions. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference. If you do not receive a satisfactory explanation for why your car was towed, you need to send a demand letter for payment of your costs to retrieve the vehicle to be paid in a certain amount of time.

If not paid in the demanded time period, your option would be small claims court against your apartment complex.

Good luck.

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