Inoperative Motor Vehicles

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Charlottesville’s Code of Ordinancesnew window icon, section 5-150, prohibits the open storage of inoperable vehicles on private property.  An inoperative vehicle is defined as any vehicle which: is not in operating condition due to total or partial disassembly or removal of essential parts, OR does not display a valid license plate, OR does not display a valid state inspection decal.  The code allows for one (and only one) vehicle on each parcel which does not meet any one of the above conditions, provided that it is fully and completely screened from view.  An opaque car cover or tarp is considered sufficient screening, provided it covers the entire chassis of the vehicle and can be secured to prevent it from blowing away.

Using the process outlined below, the City will notify the property owner and will attempt to notify the tenant(s) of the property of the violation.  If the owner does not abate the violation within the allowed 10-day time period, the City will have the vehicle removed by a towing contractor and allow the towing contractor to contact the vehicle owner for payment of towing and storage fees.


A violation is reported to the City by a citizen or spotted during a neighborhood sweep.

If the violation was received via citizen complaint, the inspector for the area performs an inspection to determine whether a violation exists, and takes a digital photograph of the violating vehicle(s).

The inspector updates their inspection records.

The inspector sends a notice of violation to the “owner of record” for the property, as determined by the Real Estate Assessor’s Office records.  This notice will usually be accompanied by a photo of the violation, and it allows ten days for correction.  The inspector will attempt to send a carbon copy of this notice to the tenant of the property, but this notice may not always reach the vehicle owner due to the uncertainty of determining vehicle ownership in a multiple-unit building.

During this ten-day period the violation may be appealed if the property owner feels that the notice was issued in error for any reason.

After the ten-day period has expired there may be no new appeals, and the inspector performs a re-inspection of the property to determine if the violation has been corrected.

If the violation has been corrected, the investigation is closed and records updated to reflect correction.

If the violation remains uncorrected, the inspector notifies one of the City’s towing contractors to remove the offending vehicle(s) – this usually occurs within 5 days of the expiration of the correction period.

The vehicle owner is contacted by the towing contractor to arrange payment for towing and storage of the vehicle.  Non-collection of the vehicle after 30-days notice from the contractor constitutes the forfeiture of the vehicle to the contractor, who may dispose of the vehicle by any means desired.

Please note that it may take several weeks for the process to play out before the violation is actually abated. During this time, the City is actively pursuing abatement of the violation, and we appreciate your patience.


To report a violation, call Neighborhood Development Services at (434) 970-3182 and provide the address or general location of the violation so that your call may be forwarded to the appropriate inspector for that area.


If you were cited for a violation and would like to speak with an inspector, please call Neighborhood Development Services at (434) 970-3182 and request to speak with the inspector who issued the notice. Our goal is to obtain voluntary compliance, and therefore most reasonable requests for extra time or for referrals for special assistance are granted, whenever possible.