Assemblyman RUBEN J. RAMOS, JR.
District 33 (Hudson)
Assemblywoman ANNETTE QUIJANO
District 20 (Union)
Prohibits charging vehicle storage fees for days on which storage facility is closed.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act concerning storage fees for towed vehicles and amending P.L.2007, c.193.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. Section 10 of P.L.2007, c.193 (C.56:13-16) is amended to read as follows:
10. It shall be an unlawful practice for any private property towing company or for any other towing company that provides non-consensual towing services:
a. (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2009, c.39)
b. (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2009, c.39)
c. (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2009, c.39)
d. To give any benefit or advantage, including a pecuniary benefit, to any person for providing information about motor vehicles parked for unauthorized purposes on privately owned property or otherwise in connection with private property towing of motor vehicles parked without authorization or during a time at which such parking is not permitted;
e. To fail, when so requested by the owner or operator of a vehicle subject to non-consensual towing, to release a vehicle to the owner or operator that has been, or is about to be, hooked or lifted but has not actually been moved or removed from the property when the vehicle owner or operator returns to the vehicle, or to charge the owner or operator requesting release of the vehicle an unreasonable or excessive decoupling fee. Such a fee shall be presumptively unreasonable and excessive if it exceeds by more than 25 percent, or a different percentage established by the director by regulation, the usual and customary decoupling fee charged by the towing company for a vehicle subject to consensual towing, or if it exceeds by more than 50%, or a different percentage established by the director by regulation, the usual and customary decoupling fee charged for vehicles subject to non-consensual towing by other private property towing companies operating in the municipality in which the vehicle was subjected to non-consensual towing;
f. (1) To charge a fee for a private property or other non-consensual towing or related storage service not listed on the schedule of services for which a fee may be charged as established by the director except as may be permitted by the director by regulation; [or]
(2) To charge an unreasonable or excessive fee; or
(3) To charge a fee for the storage of a vehicle which has been towed for days on which the towing company or storage facility is closed to the public, making it impossible for the vehicle’s owner to retrieve the stored vehicle.
g. To refuse to accept for payment in lieu of cash or an insurance company check for towing or storage services a debit card, charge card or credit card if the operator ordinarily accepts such card at his place of business, unless such refusal is authorized in accordance with section 4 of P.L.2002, c.67 (C.56:13-4) as amended by section 21 of P.L.2007, c.193; or
h. To monitor, patrol, or otherwise surveil a private property for the purposes of identifying vehicles parked for unauthorized purposes and towing a motor vehicle parked for an unauthorized purpose from such private property without having been specifically requested to tow such vehicle by the owner of the property.
(cf: P.L.2009, c.39, s.6)
2. This act shall take effect on the first day of the third month following enactment.
This bill would prohibit towing companies from charging storage fees for days on which the towing company or storage facility is closed, making it impossible for the owners to retrieve their vehicles. Under the bill, charging such a storage fee would be an unlawful practice.
An unlawful practice under the Consumer Fraud Act is punishable by a monetary penalty of not more than $10,000 for a first offense and not more than $20,000 for any subsequent offense. In addition, a violation can result in cease and desist orders issued by the Attorney General, the assessment of punitive damages, and the awarding of treble damages and costs to the injured.