Towing Illegally Parked Cars in Brisbane

If you live or work in an area where parking is limited, you might have to deal with drivers creating their own parking spaces. If they’re parking on your private property though, we have some good news — you can have them towed away!

Towing illegally parked cars in Brisbane does come with some legal restrictions and requirements. In April 2018, the removal of vehicles from private property was added to tow truck legislation. Since then, towing illegally parked cars from private property in Queensland must be done by an accredited driver and assistants in licensed tow trucks.

Since you don’t want to break the law trying to remove someone who broke the law, it’s important you understand your responsibilities before diving in.

If illegally parked cars are a common problem for you, the best solution is to engage a tow operator. Essentially, have a towing company at the ready to tow any car parked illegally on your private property.

It’s up to your discretion if and when you choose to enforce the parking rules for your private property. If you want to enforce them, there are a few areas for us to cover here so let’s start by taking a look at your responsibilities.


Your responsibilities in getting a car towed from private property

Before you contact a tow company to have a car removed, make sure you protect yourself. The last thing you want is to end up with a fine or other repercussions just because you missed an important step.


Put up clear signage

You need to make it clear to motorists that those spaces are private property. We’ve all seen the signs before — warning that it’s a private parking space and your vehicle will be towed.

There’s no better way to make it clear than putting a sign like this at each of your parking spaces. 

private property towing sign
tow away zone warning sign



This will deter most people from parking there at all and prevention is always better than the cure. If someone still decides to park their car illegally right in front of a sign saying they’ll get towed, it’s very hard for them to argue from there. You’re eliminating most problems right away by doing this.

To get the most from your signage, it should be:

  • Very obvious to anyone using your parking space(s)
  • Clear which parking space(s) the sign refers to
  • Unobstructed and easy to read
  • Written in a way that’s easy to understand

If you’ve ever looked at parking zone signage on the streets of Brisbane, you’ve seen poor signage. The type of signs where you have to stop and read it three times to figure out if you can park there or not — that’s a perfect example of what not to do!

For more great information on parking signage, take a look at the Department of Transportation and Main Roads’ Private Property Signage Guidelines.


No wheel clamping

No matter what, it’s illegal to detain a parked car using a wheel clamp or any other type of immobilising device.

In fact, it’s illegal to detain an illegally parked car at all. If you’re keeping a driver from moving their car from your parking spot, you’re breaking the law and leaving yourself open to paying those tow charges too.


Prevention is always the best solution

You might be thinking that it’s not your responsibility to keep people from parking illegally. While you’re not exactly wrong, it’s still a pain for you to keep getting them removed.

Although not your responsibility, using chains, gates or bollards to restrict drivers can make this whole problem go away. This is especially effective if you have the issue of people parking their car illegally after hours and leaving it there. 

If it’s physically impossible for them to get to your private parking space after hours, problem solved!


Engaging a towing operator

If you’ve got your signage up and people are still illegally parking their car in your car park, it’s time to take action. The way to do this is by engaging a Brisbane towing operator to remove illegally parked cars, now and in the future.

They’re there to monitor and enforce the conditions of your parking area on your behalf. This means clear parking spots for your customers and no more having to deal with the issues yourself. Simple!

There are a few things to know before you choose a towing operator:

  • Their operation must be licensed with the Department of Transport and Main Roads
  • Their drivers and assistants must be accredited
  • They must be using licensed tow trucks


Make sure they’re right for you

Before you go any further, have a conversation with the towing operator. Make sure what they’re offering, how they operate and what they charge is suitable for your needs.

As you’ll see below, we are heavily regulated but that doesn’t mean all towing companies are the same. Do your homework before you go signing any contracts.


You must officially enter into a contract with your chosen tow company

To have a towing operator act on your behalf, you need to enter into an official (written) contract with them. This will outline the services being offered and confirm that both parties agree to such enforcement. It can’t be just any old truck and driver towing cars.

You’ll also need a towing consent form before any cars can be towed. If the vehicle owner requests it, this towing consent form must be produced.


Tow truck operator’s responsibilities

Although not directly up to you to monitor, it’s still a good idea to understand some of the tow truck operator’s responsibilities as well. After all, if they’re doing something illegal, it can reflect badly on you.

This is a heavily regulated industry and these regulations are taken seriously.


Conduct of the tow truck licence holder and driver

To avoid unfair or unnecessary actions from towing companies, they must do everything reasonable to find the driver of the vehicle before loading it onto a tow truck.

If the driver comes back while they’re in the process of loading it, they’re also required to release the vehicle immediately — without charging you or the driver. No questions asked.

If the driver comes back after their vehicle has been completely secured on the truck, that’s a different story. The vehicle still has to be released immediately but only after paying the on-site release fee (up to $156.15). If the driver refuses to pay, the tow truck operator is free to remove the vehicle from your property.

If that’s the case, or the vehicle’s owner/driver can’t be located, the towing operator is free to tow the vehicle to a holding yard. This must be done via the most direct route practical and the holding yard must be TMR-approved.

During the towing process and while in the holding yard, they must take all reasonable precautions to prevent loss or damage to the vehicle and any personal items inside.

Last but not least, they cannot threaten or intimidate vehicle owners or drivers during the process. From TMR’s Private Property Parking and Towing Fact Sheet

“The tow truck licence operator and driver must not directly or indirectly cause or threaten wilful injury to a person or their property; intimidate, harass, abuse or insult a person or prevent or hinder the delivery of first aid or medical treatment“

This might seem like common sense but you’d be surprised sometimes. . .


Letting police know when a vehicle has been towed from private property

It’s also the tow truck licence holder’s responsibility to notify the Queensland Police Service that they’ve towed an illegally parked car. This must be done as soon as practicable, no more than 1 hour after the vehicle has been stored in the holding yard.

This is an important step. Not only is it a regulatory requirement but it also means the driver can easily find out what happened to their vehicle.


Maximum regulated fees for towing illegally parked cars in Brisbane

To avoid outrageous fees and unsavoury practices, these regulations also limit the amount a towing operator can charge. These maximum regulated fees include:

  • A standard tow of a motor vehicle from private property: $260.25
  • The on-site release of a motor vehicle from private property capped at $156.15
  • A daily charge for storing a motor vehicle towed from private property to the nearest holding yard capped at $26.00 per day

Source: TMR Fact Sheet


Where these regulations apply in Brisbane

These towing regulations apply not just in Brisbane but across various parts of Queensland

The Shires of – Beaudesert, Boonah, Caboolture, Esk, Gatton, Kilcoy, Laidley, Maroochy, Noosa, Pine Rivers and Redland.

The Cities of – Brisbane, Bundaberg, Cairns, Caloundra, Gold Coast, Hervey Bay, Ipswich, Logan, Mackay, Maryborough, Redcliffe, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.

The areas made up of the parishes of:

Clement and Hinchinbrook in the county of Gray

Beor, Bohle, Coonambelah, Ettrick, Halifax, Hervey, Lansdowne, Magnetic, Margenta, Rokeby, Ross, Stuart and Wyoming in the county of Elphinstone.

Source: TMR Tow truck scheme

This basically covers the greater Brisbane and surrounding areas. If you’re unsure if your part of South East Queensland falls under these regulations, contact your local council for more information.