Need advice - guest's car was towed

Here’s a new one for me… I have a listing that’s a condo which includes a dedicated parking spot in the building’s underground garage. It’s a bit of a long story, but another resident called the local police department’s parking services and had my guest’s car towed because they alleged that she was parked in their spot. I’m not sure if the guest was actually parked in the other resident’s spot, or whether the other resident thought that my spot was their spot (and there’s no way to prove it either way). I don’t actually know who the other resident is.

Now my guest expects me to cover the $200 towing cost… she’s adamant that she parked in the right spot, and says there are “paperwork gaps on my end to figure out” which is not true. I spoke with the police supervisor and he said it sounds like she parked in the wrong spot and isn’t willing to admit it, but I’m skeptical.

My question is, do I have any legal or moral responsibility to reimburse her for the tow?

Are there any cameras in the garage that management will let you look at? One would think someone would need proof that it was their spot before the police would just hook up and tow away, right? Otherwise people could cause a lot of havoc using towing services. So I’d assume the guest parked in the wrong spot. If she could prove that she didn’t park in the wrong place, I’d pay for the tow as an expense of doing business in that location. If she parked in the wrong space, it’s on her. Expect the bad review and review accordingly. Also put in your rules about the tow as a consequence of parking in the wrong place and maybe a picture of the correct spot in your guest guide.

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There may have been cameras, but unfortunately it was almost a month ago and I don’t think they save all the footage for that long. She has no proof, but there was someone who had parked in my spot previously so it wouldn’t surprise me if my guest was in the right.

Basically what happens is that anyone can call the police to request a tow. An officer comes out to “verify” that the person has the proper documentation to to show that they own or rent the parking spot, then calls a tow truck. It’s possible that the officer messed up, the confusion is between the same numbered spot on P1 and P2. My spot is P1 #45 and someone else has P2 #45, but the spots are just marked “45” so who knows where she parked.

Honestly I was going to reimburse her just to be nice, but her attitude sucks. She thinks it’s my fault and my responsibility somehow.

Oh and the review period has passed so in that sense I’m off the hook. I don’t really want her submitting to Airbnb and them ruling that I have to pay though.

I think you do have a responsibility because of the following:

  • Is it ridiculously clear where your guests should park and where they shouldn’t park? I suppose not.
  • Did you invest in good relations with your neighbors so they don’t go calling the police when someone accidentally parks in their spot? You already answered no.

Regardless if your guest parked in your neighbor’s spot or your neighbor only thought she did, I think there were ways to prevent the towing from happening, so I would be a gentleman and just pay for it.

There’s your answer. You have no moral or ethical reason to pay for what is probably her error. If you want to be nice/err on the side of fair/need good karma/etc. tell her since you have no way of determining what really happened you will pay half. I would only do that if she was a good booking that brought in enough money to be worth it.

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Often it’s a hard disk that is large enough to hold images for more than a month. Make sure there’s no camera footage.

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I send each guest very detailed directions, and from our conversation it sounds like she understood which spot was mine. But who knows, I have no way of proving anything (although I did just ask building security if they still have the video)

The complex has something like 1200 condo units in it, there’s no way I can cultivate good relations with everyone in the building. We already have an ongoing problem with other Airbnb guests and random people parking in different spots, and the building management’s solution has been to direct residents to call police any time they think someone is parked in their spot. I don’t even know who did it… the guest can file a freedom of information request with the police if she wants to make a civil claim again the person who asked for the tow, but I have no legal rights since it wasn’t my car.

It wasn’t even a good booking, I made about $50 after my expenses for two nights. Sounds like the guest is broke herself, she claims not to have enough cash to float the $200 charge on her credit card. But again, who knows. I’m mostly annoyed that she’s so ungrateful and thinks it’s my responsibility.

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Without the benefit of video evidence I think I’d pay this one out of pocket (or split the cost) and devise a more fool-proof plan for parking going forward.

It seems like a fairly easy trap to get caught in with the same numbered spots in an unfamiliar parking garage. Do your instructions hammer home the Parking floor? (PARK ON P1 ONLY! There is a $200 charge for parking in the wrong spot and a spot #45 on Parking level 2. Please be sure you’ve parked on the correct floor)

Can you hang a sign, leave a balloon, or some other visual confirmation for guests?

I’d probably have a sour attitude, too, if I felt I’d followed all the parking instructions and still stuck with a $200 towing fee.

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I understand, but just consider getting to know the neighbor left and right of your parking spot, and maybe also all the neighbors who share a wall, floor/ceiling with your unit. So many things can easily be solved with communication.

I’d love to, but the other spot is in a completely different part of the building and I have no idea where they live. I left a note on a car that was parked in my spot with my number, and nobody ever contacted me. Perhaps because they know they messed up… definitely a crummy situation.

I told my guest to submit a claim to Airbnb, but I think I will not accept it. Who knows, maybe Airbnb will reimburse her without charging me! Crazier things have happened.

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I just reviewed your listing: you are asking the guest to contact you to receive parking info? I feel that this should be a detailed in your access note…1200 condos! to me this means 1200 parking spots and an out-of-towner has to navigate finding a needle in a haystack.
I’m with Allison_H on this one, if your gut feeling say reimburse the guest then just do it.

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My instructions are very detailed, and I think she parked properly in my spot. My issue is whether I should be obliged to pay the fee from a legal perspective, especially since she’s been so rude about it.

It may be a moot point because she submitted the claim to Airbnb and (of course) they sided with her without asking for my side of the story. The usual host screw job…

Did you receive a copy of the ticket or tow inpoundment notice? Are you sure you owe that money, and the spot it was parked in? Just checking.