15-day notice

The storage-lot operator must give you written notice within 15 days after the day the vehicle arrives at the lot.

The storage-lot operator is allowed to give written notice:

  • by email or fax
  • in person
  • by certified or registered mail
  • by prepaid courier

The storage-lot operator must also notify other interested parties, such as creditors (e.g. lease and finance companies). They hold what’s called a registered security interest.

When 15-day notice not given

If the storage-lot operator does not notify you within those 15 days, the amount you have to pay will be limited to the towing and storage costs in that 15-day period.

The storage-lot operator has a legal right – a lien – to ask you for payment before giving you your vehicle back.

When to go to court

If you did not agree with the amount before your vehicle was towed to the lot, you can dispute the lien in court. A judge will decide the fair value after considering factors such as:

  • various costs carried by storage-lot operator
  • profit to be made by storage-lot operator for storing your vehicle

New tow and storage rules in 2017

On January 1, 2017, new consumer protection rules for towing and vehicle-storage services will come into effect.

Getting your permission first

Tow and storage operators must get permission from you, or someone acting on your behalf, before towing or storing your vehicle. (You may need someone to act on your behalf if you are unable to give authorization (e.g. due to injury). This does not apply if your vehicle is being impounded or detained for law enforcement purposes or under a lawful power of seizure.

Giving you rates, contact info and access to personal property in the vehicle

Tow and storage operators must give you the following information:

  • tow and storage rates by posting them at their place of business and on a website (if one is maintained)
  • the operator’s business name and telephone number (if different than the operator’s own name and telephone number) by posting it on the side of the tow truck and at the place of business
  • address where your vehicle will be towed
  • if they are receiving a financial payment or incentive for recommending a particular vehicle storage facility or repair shop, even if you asked for the recommendation

Giving you an invoice and payment options

Tow and storage operators must give you:

  • the option of paying with a credit card and not insist on cash only
  • an itemized invoice listing the services provided, the cost of each service and the total cost before demanding or receiving payment from you

Allowing you to enter the vehicle on the lot

The storage-lot operator must allow you or someone acting on your behalf to enter your vehicle once it’s on the lot to remove personal property, except when the police state otherwise.

This must be granted at no charge to you between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on business days.

Improving tow-truck safety

Tow-truck drivers must hold a valid Commercial Vehicle Operator’s Registration certificate in Ontario. This will help improve the safety standards and practices for tow-truck drivers and business owners.

Find out how to get or renew a certificate.