Can Herriman City do anything to stop predatory towing practices?Jan 03, 2022 02:43PM ● By Justin Adams
Last month, the Herriman City Council once again discussed an issue that just won’t seem to go away: predatory towing practices within the city, specifically within its private HOA communities.
On public streets, cars only get towed at the request of the city’s police department. But the private roads within an HOA are governed by different rules. The HOA management company can contract directly with a private towing company and set the parameters for how strict or lenient they want their parking rules enforced.
Councilman Steven Shields read off a list of incidents where people’s vehicles were towed
One person had their car towed during the time it took them to go up to a person’s house to complete a transaction organized on KSL classifieds.
Another person parked just long enough to run a dinner up to the door of a family who had just had a baby. When they returned, their car was being towed.
Residents have also lodged complaints about how these towing companies handle the return of the car. Some residents have found the companies unresponsive. One family retrieved their car to find that their 2-year old’s car seat was missing.
“To me, there’s a reasonable standard that needs to be met. These scenarios just aren’t reasonable,” said Councilman Jared Henderson.
The problem for the city, however, is that there’s not much they can do about it because it all occurs on private land. If there’s one body that could do anything, it’s the state legislature, which has set up the statutes that regulate what towing companies are allowed to do.
“We can’t do anything that conflicts with any of those statutes, so we’re operating in a pretty narrow lane,” said City Attorney Chase Andrizzi.
“In almost all these incidents, the towing company followed all the rules. They didn’t do anything illegal,” Shields said. “But just because it’s lawful and just because it’s in compliance with the HOA rules, doesn’t mean it’s not predatory. I know that from my career in the mortgage lending industry. People did loans for a long time that were totally legal, but were later defined as predatory actions.”
So if Herriman city can’t pass any laws to help the situation, is there anything they can do?
First, city officials have attempted to open up a dialogue with some of the HOA management companies in an attempt to see if they won’t voluntarily moderate their practices.
“I think it behooves the towing companies and the HOAs to work on a solution that makes sense. I think if they can’t find a way to regulate themselves, it is going to end up at the state legislature,” Shields said.
Another thing the city may look to do is education for residents: having a page on the city’s website that provides information and resources for those dealing with this issue.
“This is obviously going to keep on occurring, we’ve had this conversation a million times,” Henderson said. “So I think we really need to educate people that this is a state statute. Here’s what the city can and can’t do.”