Report an abandoned vehicle

What is an abandoned vehicle?

An abandoned vehicle is one that appears not to be in regular use (unless on private land with the landowner or occupier's permission) for which no owner can be found or traced.

Taxed vehicles

We do not have the legal power to remove taxed vehicles but we may be able to investigate in certain circumstances such as if the vehicle is burnt out or has missing registration plates.

Untaxed vehicles

Although it is an offence to use a vehicle on the highway without tax, untaxed vehicles are not necessarily abandoned. Some people choose to ignore the law and drive vehicles without valid tax but have certainly not abandoned them. You can check whether a vehicle is taxed by visiting GOV.UK. If a vehicle is untaxed but does not meet the critera below, it can be reported to the DVLA online or by contacting 0300 790 6802.

To be classed as an abandoned vehicle it must be untaxed and meet at least two of the following criteria before an inspection is carried out:

  • Significant bodywork damage
  • Broken windscreen/windows
  • Missing wheels
  • Litter or weeds under the vehicle
  • Rusty brakes
  • Flat tyres
  • Broken lights
  • Leaking fluids
  • Excessive waste in the vehicle
  • Increased fire risk

For vehicles that do not have registration plates, are insecure or are burnt out, the inspection and removal of the vehicle will normally be carried out within 24 hours. For all other vehicles, the initial inspection will be undertaken within 24 hours of the report being received. The timescale from the initial report to the removal of the vehicle can take up to six weeks depending on the information response time from outside agencies.

We have a duty under Section 3 of the Refuse Disposal (Amenity) Act 1978, to remove a vehicle which is abandoned in Cheltenham borough, on any land in the open air, or on any other land forming part of a highway. Under this act, abandoning a vehicle is a criminal offence, carrying a maximum penalty or a fine of £2,500 or three months' imprisonment or both.

How do I report an abandoned vehicle?

What we will need to know

We will ask you to tell us about the vehicle:

  • where the vehicle is
  • make, model and colour
  • the registration number (if it has one)
  • what condition the vehicle is in (based on the criteria above)
  • how long the vehicle has been left there

How to reclaim a vehicle

We have powers to remove vehicles if we believe that they have been abandoned. If your vehicle has been removed by the council, you will have to satisfy the council that the vehicle was not abandoned and prove that you are the legal, registered keeper. If the vehicle is in storage, you will be required to pay any outstanding costs incurred before the vehicle is released. If you are responsible for the abandonment of any vehicle you may also be prosecuted. If found guilty, you could be fined up to £2,500 or face up to 3 months imprisonment.