Photo showing Island Roads District Steward affixing a notice to an abandoned vehicle left in the street

Abandoned Vehicles

Each year in the United Kingdom, approximately 2 million vehicles reach the end of their life, either through age or becoming unusable after involvement in an accident, however, around 3 million vehicles are abandoned in England each year.

Abandoned vehicles are expensive to remove, have a negative impact on the environment, look unsightly and can lower the quality of life in neighbourhoods.

How long does it take to remove an abandoned vehicle?

Timescales may vary according to circumstances

How do I know if a vehicle is abandoned?

An abandoned vehicle is a vehicle that has no owner. It is not simply a vehicle that is either untaxed or dangerously parked. It is deemed abandoned only when the authorised officer at Island Roads decides that it is abandoned.

The vehicle will normally have one or more of the following:

  • Presence of litter, weeds etc under the vehicle indicating that it has not been moved for a considerable period of time.
  • Rusty brake discs, indicating vehicle has been in position for a long period of time.
  • Broken windows
  • Presence of mould on either the inside or outside of the vehicle.
  • Presence of waste e.g. general rubbish, old tyres, car parts etc.
  • Absence of number plates

There is no legal definition of “abandoned”. Island Roads officers have the freedom to use their discretion when making a decision on abandonment.

Why do people abandon vehicles?

Unfortunately, there is no one definitive reason why people abandon vehicles. In fact, there are a wide variety of reasons why vehicles are abandoned. Some of the more usual reasons include the following:

  • Changes in the value of scrap metal. Rather than receiving payment for their unwanted vehicles, under some circumstances, last registered owners may be asked to pay for the vehicle’s collection and/or disposal.
  • The value of used cars is decreasing
  • Some drivers are not the registered owner and keeper of the vehicle, they have no road tax, no insurance, no MOT and as a result, have no legal connection with the vehicle, therefore once the vehicle becomes unwanted, abandonment if the only option.
  • The high cost of motoring, including charges incurred from speeding fines, parking fines etc. Often the value of the charges is greater that the value of the vehicle itself, therefore abandonment is the cheaper option.
  • The high cost of maintaining and repairing the vehicle when it is old.
  • Vehicles involved in criminal activities are often abandoned once the crime has been committed.
  • The increase in MOT failure rates, as some older vehicle cannot meet the standard required on exhaust emissions.
  • Personal circumstances of the owner e.g. death of the owner, owner suffering ill health, owner in prison, owner moved away from the area.

Abandoned vehicles and the Law

Local authorities are under a duty under Section 3 of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978, to remove a vehicle which is abandoned in their area, on any land in the open air, or on any other land forming part of a highway. This function has been delegated to Island Roads by the Isle of Wight Council. However this does not cover vehicles abandoned on private land. Under this Act, abandoning a vehicle is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty of a fine of £2,500 or three months’ imprisonment, or both.

Island Roads have the power to recover costs of removal, storage and disposal from the person responsible for the abandonment of the vehicle. This can mean “the owner of the vehicle at the time when it was put in the place from which it was removed, unless he/she can show that he/she was not concerned in and did not know of its being put there”.

A vehicle should not be considered abandoned solely on the grounds that it is not displaying a valid tax disc. Untaxed cars that are not abandoned should be reported to the DVLA on their free phone number 0800 325 202.

How do I report an abandoned vehicle?

To report an abandoned vehicle, please contact our help desk on 01983 822440 or complete an online form.