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Living in My Car*: Do I Have Any Rights? (*or truck, RV, or other vehicle)

Authored By: Northwest Justice Project LSC Funded
Read this in:
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As of November 2019, there is a case before the Washington Court of Appeals on this issue. Read this to find out more. #6901EN


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I live in my car. I use it as my home. Do I have any rights?

As of November 2019, there is a case before the Washington Court of Appeals on this issue.

A vehicle resident has argued that impounding (towing) his vehicle and refusing to release it until he agreed to pay more than $500 in fees violates his constitutional rights and state law.

He also argues that impounding his vehicle during bad, stormy weather when he had nowhere else to go also violated his constitutional rights. This case is still on appeal. As of December 1, 2019, the Court has not made a final decision.

*If you live in your car and cannot afford the impound fees, you may want to tell the judge at your impound hearing this. Talk to a lawyer. Read They Towed My Car for more general info.

I live in my car and use it as my home. Are any social services resources available to me?

A few cities and counties may have "safe lot" programs. These let vehicle residents park safely in certain areas. You do not have to worry about being towed. There are not many of these programs. They vary by city. Call 211 to ask about these in your area.

Seattle has a Scofflaw Mitigation Project. It is run by the Interfaith Task Force on Homelessness. They work to try to help vehicle residents who face booting and impoundment because of four or more unpaid tickets. Read www.itfhomeless.org for more info. Call 211 or this organization directly for up-to-date info. The services they offer may change.

Get Legal Help

Visit Northwest Justice Project to find out how to get legal help.

Thanks to Alison Bilow of Columbia Legal Services for her work on this fact sheet.

This publication provides general information concerning your rights and responsibilities. It is not intended as a substitute for specific legal advice.
This information is current as of December 2019.

© 2019 Northwest Justice Project — 1-888-201-1014.
(Permission for copying and distribution granted to the Alliance for Equal Justice and to individuals for non-commercial purposes only.)


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Last Review and Update: Dec 03, 2019