Detroit, MI asked in Real Estate Law, Civil Litigation, Municipal Law and Land Use & Zoning for Michigan

Q: Can I legally move (via tow-truck / paid service) another person's car from my property?

Next door neighbor owns a car (junk, not running); the car sits in the back yard between our houses. The car straddles the property line. It's been there for years. I want to clean up my back yard, get landscaping, and put up a fence. The car must be moved. But, my neighbor won't move it. I want to have it towed from my (our) backyard to his driveway (in the front).

Our two properties sit in a cul de sac and the only way that old car can get out of the backyard is through my driveway.

Are there any legal considerations for taking this action? Would a tow truck company deny service because i am moving someone else's vehicle?


1 Lawyer Answer
Kenneth V Zichi
Kenneth V Zichi
  • Real Estate Law Lawyer
  • Fowlerville, MI
  • Licensed in Michigan

A: IF (and that is a HUGE unknown!) the car is on your land, the neighbor is trespassing.

Are you 100% Absolutely Positively Undeniably CERTAIN of us on your land? You can have it removed but not necessarily onto the neighbor’s land — unless they neighbor consents to that. (You don’t have the right to move something onto a neighbor’s land, even if that thing belongs to the neighbor, without their permission.)

That said, if an abandoned, unregistered vehicle is on your land, Michigan has a statute that deals with this and YOU as a private individual can’t move someone else’s vehicle even if it’s on your land. Contact the police and they can arrange to have it removed.

In your position I’d do three things:

1) get a real survey so you absolutely positively know where the boundaries are. If they are a foot or two different than you think, trying to push this will lead to a WORLD of problems. Be SURE first.

2) if it turns out the car IS on your yard, tell the neighbor you are going to call the police to have it towed and they will assess the costs to him as the owner if HE doesn’t move it within a day or three.

3) take the necessary steps to have officials remove the vehicle if he refuses — but be aware this is a ‘nuclear option’ and will likely lead to hard feelings or worse.

No matter WHAT you do, it would be wise to talk with a local licensed attorney after you get that survey. There may be other options (is there a homeowner association of blight ordinance for example) that local legal help will disclose).

‘Self help’ is almost always a bad idea no matter HOW frustrated you are. ….

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.