Abandoned vehicles FAQs

If you are concerned please advise us:

Q. A car has a 'police aware' sticker on it but has been there for a long time. Why has it not been removed?

- The police may still have an interest in the vehicle, in all other cases they have agreed to tell the Council so action can be taken.


Q. A car has been left blocking the parking space close to my house, it is untaxed and no one local owns it. Can you remove it?

- Only if our inquiries do not find someone who can show that they are the owner of the vehicle. If someone owns it then the Council can take no action and you must contact your landlord or take your own civil action through the Courts.


Q. Does the Council charge a fee when dealing with an abandoned vehicle?

-Yes.


Q. How do I report an abandoned vehicle?

- Abandoned vehicles can be reported via our report it online service.

We will accept reports from the members of the public, the police or owners of land, regarding vehicles abandoned on the highway, private roads, private property or council managed property. The following information will be required in order to proceed;

Your name, address and telephone number will be requested together with details of:

  • Location of vehicle
  • Colour
  • Registration number  
  • Make and Model
  • General condition
  • The length of time the vehicle has been at the site


You will also be asked if you know who the owner of the land is where the vehicle is situated and if you know who might be the last owner of the car (or who left it there).


Q. How to spot an abandoned vehicle

- The following bullet points should help you make a judgement:

  • Are any of the tyres flat or have any of the wheels been removed?
  • Is there litter or any other signs under the vehicle, indicating that it has not moved for some time?
  • Is the windscreen or any of the windows broken?
  • Is there any mould on either the inside or outside of the vehicle?
  • Does the vehicle contain items of waste e.g. tyres, old newspapers, general rubbish?
  • Does the vehicle have number plates?
  • Has the vehicle been 'hot-wired ' i.e. driven without keys by connecting ignition wires together? (If it has, there will be wires hanging from the dashboard.)
  • Has the vehicle been vandalised? Exterior vandalism might include dents in bodywork, graffiti, bumpers/spoilers being removed; interior vandalism might include radio being stolen, seat covers being slashed.
  • Has a vehicle that you and your neighbours have never seen before suddenly appeared in your road and no one is claiming ownership?


Q. I only recently bought the vehicle and have not yet informed the DVLA of the change in ownership. Can I have my car back at no cost?

- No, because both you and the person you bought the car from have a duty to inform the DVLA immediately that there has been a change of ownership. If no owner can be traced it is reasonable for the Council to consider that it is abandoned.


Q. Is it against the law to abandon a vehicle?

- Yes, under the terms of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978 it is a criminal offence to abandon a vehicle and carries a penalty upon conviction of a fine of up to £2,500 or 3 months imprisonment or both. The Council can also claim back the cost of removing and disposing of the vehicle.


Q. My car was stolen and now the council has my car in store or have destroyed it. Can I get my car back at no cost or if it has been destroyed can I be compensated?

- If you notified the police and your insurance company immediately your vehicle was stolen then our inquiries would have revealed this fact and you would be informed that the vehicle had been found.

Your insurance company who would be invoiced by the Council direct would normally pay any costs resulting from the removal of the vehicle.

If your vehicle were undamaged your insurance company would return your vehicle to you at their expense.

If your car has been destroyed the only compensation would be from your insurance company.


Q. Once the Council has received an abandoned vehicle complaint how long will it take to remove the vehicle?

- The vehicle will be removed as rapidly as the law permits, which will be between 3 and 20 days depending on circumstances.


Q. What happens when an abandoned vehicle is reported?

- Reports of abandoned vehicles will be subject to an initial enquiry to see if the vehicle falls within South Cambridgeshire District Council or Police responsibility.

A Council officer will visit the vehicle and make local enquiries to trace the owner, complete a condition report and assess whether vehicle is a wreck i.e. should be destroyed, or a runner. A 24 hour notice will be fixed on the vehicle if appropriate, digital photographs of the vehicle and an inventory of the contents will be taken. The Council will contact the DVLA and make Police PNC enquiries to trace the registered keeper of the vehicle

Vehicles Abandoned on Private Land
If the vehicle is on private land a 15-day notice will be served on the owner. If the vehicle is a wreck a 24 hour destruction notice can be served to run concurrently with the 15-day notice. The owner can object in writing in which case the Council can take no further action. If no objection is received the vehicle will be removed.

Vehicles Abandoned on Open Public Land
If the registered keeper of the vehicle is known a 7-day notice will be served

If the vehicle is still in-situ on expiry of the 7-day notice, the vehicle will be removed by the Council and the Police notified. The vehicle can be disposed of at any time after removal where no tax was displayed or where the tax expired at least 14 days before removal.

Where the registered keeper is unknown, the council will remove and destroy any untaxed vehicle after 14 days.

If the vehicle is a wreck and the owner is known a 24 hr 'Destruction Notice will be attached to the vehicle and a 7-day notice served on the owner.

Where the owner of a wreck is unknown a 24 hr 'Destruction Notice' will be attached to the vehicle and instruction given for removal and disposal to a contractor and the removal notified to Police.


Q. When is a vehicle considered abandoned?

- A vehicle is deemed to have been abandoned if it appears to have been given up or forsaken, it will have been left for a significant period and will not be taxed. We must be satisfied that the vehicle has been left with no intention of being removed within a reasonable period.

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