Unattended vehicles

On 1st November 2022, the new Public Spaces (Unattended Property) Act 2021 came into effect repealing and replacing the Impounding Act 1993. The stated aims of the new Act are:

  • stronger regulatory and enforcement powers to deal with property left unattended in public
  • higher penalties for offences
  • greater ability to recover regulatory costs from those responsible
  • greater flexibility to temporarily store or care for unattended items and animals
  • reduced costs for compliance and storage
  • easier way to work with other authorities across jurisdictional boundaries

The Act classifies items that may be possessed by a person into three classes:

  1. Class 1 items – small to medium sized capable of ownership that can be ordinarily collected by one or two persons without the need for machinery to lift, tow or move them (e.g., baggage, personal equipment such as surfboards or kayaks that are not available for hire).
  2. Class 2 items – items available for use by the public at large, whether on payment of a fee or other benefit, including as part of a sharing service (e.g., share-bikes and shopping trolleys).
  3. Class 3 items – motor vehicles, including hire cars, caravans, trailers, and boat trailers.

A key element of the new legislation is whether Class 1 to 3 items left in public places are ‘Unattended’. Unattended is defined in the Act as ‘not under the direct control or supervision of the responsible person’ and specific rules apply to each class of item when assessing whether they can be legally determined to be unattended or not. Owners and others responsible for unattended items may be liable to on-the spot-fines and/or Court action if they do not remove their property from public property.

Inner West Council will aim to enforce this with pro-active and re-active patrols managed within risk-based timeframes.

Although the legislation was implemented in November, there is a grace period in effect regarding the issuing of fines under this new Act until May 2023 which allows for the public and businesses to become familiar and comply with the new laws. The grace period, however, does not prevent Council from taking possession and/or removing items from public areas as long as the prescribed risk-based timeframes have been complied with by Council’s Regulatory Officers.

For further information about the new laws and what they mean for you can be found at the NSW Government website:

Infographic with a visual version of the rules described in text above.

View the new rules for vehicles (PDF 430.1KB)

Council receives over 3,000 reports of unattended vehicles each year.

Vehicles that have been parked on a public street and which have not moved for a period of 60 days or more may be unregistered.

Surrender your vehicle to Council for free

  • Council can arrange the disposal of unwanted motor vehicles at no cost to Inner West Council residents
  • An authority form must be completed by the owner(s) of the vehicle before Council can arrange vehicle removal. A blank copy of the form is available at the bottom of this page
  • Residents can submit a completed authority form to Council via email: council@innerwest.nsw.gov.au
  • The original registration papers or number plate surrender receipt must also be produced with the authority form. If accepted by Council, the vehicle will generally be removed within 5 working days

How to report an unattended vehicle

  • All motor vehicles irrespective of their registration status can be reported. However, it will assist Council if you include in your report whether the reported vehicle's registration is valid or expired. You can carry out a free vehicle registration check online through Service NSW
  • Provide exact details of vehicle and how long it has been parked at the location
  • Ensure the reported vehicle is on public land and not on private property
  • Ensure the vehicle is not already displaying a notice from Council to indicate it is currently under investigation. (This may be placed on the front windscreen or on the main body of the vehicle if a trailer type vehicle)
  • Not all reports to Council of unattended motor vehicles may be actioned. For additional information please refer to the Public Space (Unattended Property Act 2021) link under the "frequently asked questions" heading below.

Report an unregistered vehicle

What happens next?

Council's Ranger Services team will:

  • Check whether the vehicle is registered and/or stolen
  • Attempt to contact the last known owner to move the vehicle
  • Regularly monitor and assess the vehicle until contact is made with the owner
  • May impound and/or remove the vehicle

The investigation and impounding/removal process can take up to 60 business days for the whole process.