Baltimore, MD: Last night, I was towed from my girlfriends condo complex (who is an owner).
First, the complex has a huge influx of college students and the condo association has been trying to drive them out by enforcing strict parking rules. Neither my girlfriend or I are students. All owners must pay a fee at move in for a parking sticker, however, I am not an owner and am not entitled to a sticker. For some time, I had to use visitor hang tags (only issued 10 at a time, for $10) but I was warned by the condo association for using a hang tag too frequently and that I would be towed. My girlfriend and I finally got a hold of the head of parking for the Condo Assn and explained that this is a huge loophole and unfair. She hesitantly gave authorization to the property management company to issue me an 8x10 special parking pass that I must place on my dashboard each night if I am parked after 11pm. There is no mention of being towed AFTER 11pm stated on the towing signs around the complex; only that parking is enforced.
So, last night, I mistakenly forgot to place my permit in the dash, as if fell between my car seat and console. Around 1Am, I remembered that I forgot to put it up, went outside, and the car was gone. The community is gated and a guard is there from 7pm till approximately 5am. Five nights a week, a guard is there that knows me very well, however, last night was the other guard who still sees me every Monday and Tues night. The guard does make rounds and notes any vehicles that are not properly displaying parking permits. He then submits them to the towing company. However, the towing company can come in and tow any vehicle that they deem not showing a particular permit. My girlfriend is going to attend a condo assn board meeting and suggest that no vehicles be towed unless the guard is notified. In this case however, I do not believe that this particular guard would have the sense to realize that my car is legally parked there simply because I'm not on their master tow list, and because he sees me parked there legally EVERY time, except last night. Even though I forgot to display my pass, I do not feel that it automatically makes me illegally parked on the property.
Anyhow, I have a few concerns. I went and picked up the car 2 hours after it was towed at the cost of $220. The receipt I was handed stated that cost, yet my credit card was charged $228 dollars. Now, Maryland sales tax is 5%. If I was charged that tax rate, the cost would be $231, not $228. Maybe there is a special rate for tow drivers, I'm not sure. Second, Baltimore city code requires the receipt to contain the statement: "Towing from private parking facilities is regulated by City Code Article 31, Subtitle 21. For complaints, please call the Baltimore City Towing board at xxxxxxxxxx". There is no such statement on my receipt.
The receipt also says in printed handwriting "owner notified". However, in clearly different handwriting underneath of that, it says "No permit". I wonder what I was notified of? Was I notified that I had no permit displayed AFTER I called the towing company? Yes, I was. Was I notified through a phone call from the towing company that my car was towed? No, I was not. There is also no telephone number of the towing company on the receipt I was given.
Also, according to Baltimore city code Article 31, subtitle 21-3(b), an ATM must be available at any location where persons seeking to reclaim their vehicles will be required to pay the tower. There was no such ATM machine in the building I picked my car up at. In fact, I'm surprised the place even had working electricity. The catch here might be that this company is located in Baltimore County. So, my vehicle was towed from Baltimore City, to Baltimore County, however, I would think that regardless of where the towing company is located, they must follow Baltimore City laws if they are to tow inside city limits, regardless of the location of the business.
Anyhow, I'm wondering if I have any merit here. I would love to retrieve at least my $228. I also feel that the towing company is in violation of Baltimore city Towing laws, and the condo association is acting in a manner that does not protect person's legally parked on the property.
I sincerely appreciate any thoughts from anyone who replies.