New Jersey Landlord Tenant: Special Rules For Disposing of Abandoned Motor Vehicles

Our office has previously reported on the subject of removing property that had been abandoned by a tenant. The general procedure, in those instances, requires a landlord to not only obtain a judgment for possession against the tenant, but to also provide the tenant with 30 days advance notice of his or her right to claim those belongs. In the event that the tenant’s belongings are not claimed within that period of time, the landlord may dispose of the tenant’s belongings. This procedure, however, does not apply to abandoned motor vehicles. In today’s article, we will briefly discuss the landlord’s procedure for removal of motor vehicles, which have been presumably abandoned by tenants.

In some instances, where the police are willing to intercede, the landlord can request that the abandoned vehicle be “ticketed” by the police, and then towed by a towing company. The owner of the vehicle will then be responsible for towing and storage fees, and may be subject to additional penalties, including loss of license. See Senate Bill 1173.

In cases where the police are not willing to intercede, the landlord should first apply to New Jersey Motor Vehicle Service to have the vehicle declared abandoned. Motor Vehicle Services will require that the landlord complete the following documents in order to complete this process:

  1. Lien search application (this will also require a fee)
  2. A notarized statement must be included, setting forth the make, model and year of the vehicle as well as the vehicle’s identification number. The statement shall also set forth all steps that the landlord took to obtain authority to sell the vehicle.
  3. The applicant must also publish notice of his or her intention to claim the abandoned vehicle in the newspaper and provide a copy of the affidavit of publication.
  4. Notice of publication must also be sent to the police department in the town where the vehicle is located. Proof of mailing of this Notice must be included with the forms submitted to Motor Vehicle Services.
  5. Photographs of the vehicle as well as the Vehicle Identification number must also be included.
  6. Additionally, the following forms (available from Motor Vehicle Services) must also be included:
    1. Abandoned Vehicle 90 Day Notice (OS/SS-139) setting forth the property owner’s intention to sell the motor vehicle if the vehicle is not claimed within 90 days.
    2. Abandoned Vehicle 5-Day Notice (OS/SS-140) must be sent by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested, to the owner and lender (if applicable), notifying them of your intent to sell the motor vehicle at auction, including the time, date and location of sale.
  1. Please also note that in cases where the property owner wants to “donate” the vehicle to the towing facility, the property owner must fill out form SS-58.

The following links may be helpful in providing the necessary forms and checklists for completing your application to have a vehicle considered abandoned:
As always, should you have any questions regarding evictions or today’s topic, please be sure to contact our office for a consultation.