Phil Querin Q&A: Dealing with Abandoned Vehicles in the Community

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Phil Querin

 

Question:  I am wondering if you can tell me how to get rid of an abandoned vehicle in our community? I have legally evicted some tenants from an owner owned home. They finally left, but I need to know how to get rid of the vehicles they left behind.

 

 

Answer:  ORS 90.725 deals with the abandonment of owner-owned manufactured homes located in manufactured housing communities. MHCO Form No. 30 contains an extensive Intake Worksheet for park owners and managers to initiate the abandonment process. It starts with the issuance of a 45-day letter.[1]Form No. 30 includes the 45-day letter. 

 

The 45-day letter permits the landlord to reasonably decide whether the associated personal property is, or is not, worth $1,000 or less. If the value is $1,000 or less, the landlord may dispose of it or give it without consideration to a nonprofit organization, or to a person unrelated to the landlord. The landlord may not retain the property for personal use or benefit.

 

If the landlord is not declaring the abandonment of a home located in a manufactured housing park, the personal property abandonment statute, ORS 90.425, would apply. It deals exclusively with a landlord’s disposition of personal property, which is defined as:

 

“…goods, vehicles and recreational vehicles and includes manufactured dwellings and floating homes not located in a facility. “Personal property” does not include manufactured dwellings and floating homes located in a facility and therefore subject to being stored, sold or disposed of as provided under ORS 90.675.” (Emphasis added.)

 

Although the statutory procedure is much the same as for abandoned manufactured homes, the landlord would issue a “15-day letter” rather than one for 45-days. 

  • It would notify the former tenant that the property is considered abandoned;
  • It would be sent to the tenant’s space address and any other address you reasonably believe will reach them or a relative, friend, or other person known to you;
  • If you can determine that there is a lien on the vehicle, you should include the lienholder in the notice and send the letter by regular and certified mail;
  • The 15-day letter would tell the former tenant/lienholder to contact the landlord or manager at an address and phone number, to arrange for removal of the vehicle within 15 days – be sure to add 3 additional days for mailing, where appropriate;
  • You would tell them that before removal you may require payment of all removal and storage charges;
  • If you reasonably believe the value is $1,000 or less you would tell them so, together with your intent to dispose of the vehicle as described above;

 

  • If you believe the value is over $1,000 you would include that in your letter; you may sell by public or private sale, and you may participate as a bidder

 

During this period, you have a duty to keep the vehicle in a place of safekeeping. 

 

Although the statute does not address this alternative option, here is one that may be useful, although you should confirm with your own attorney first:  Have the vehicle towed by a towing and storage facility, and so notify the former tenant using the same 15-day letter format described above. 

 

You should first make sure with the towing company that if there will be a charge to you, it is established up front, and the events to occur if the owner does not pick the vehicle up from them. I do not recommend this option if the car has any significant value, or there is a lienholder on title.

 

[1] Note: The 45-day period must be extended by an additional 3-days if it is sent by regular mail.

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