Abandoned vehicles

Is a vehicle really abandoned?

There is no legal definition of an abandoned vehicle. Environmental Enforcement Officers use a list of criteria to determine if a vehicle may be abandoned, some of these are:

  • the vehicle appears to be significantly damaged, or not roadworthy
  • it is kept unlawfully on the road whilst registered with a SORN (Statutory off Road Notification), or holds no valid road tax
  • the vehicle has not moved for a significant period of time. The Officer will decide what length of time is considered significant in each case
  • it has flat tyres, missing wheels or one or both of its registration plates is removed
  • there is significant waste inside or outside the vehicle
  • the owner or keeper cannot be identified, or fails to respond to a letter or legal notice.

A vehicle is not abandoned if it is:

  • involved in a residential parking dispute or not displaying a valid permit. Just because a vehicle is not known to you or your neighbours does not mean it has been abandoned by the keeper
  • just untaxed, or does not have a valid MOT. Please report it to the DVLA using the link at the bottom of this page. Road tax is the responsibility of the DVLA, not the council
  • causing an immediate obstruction on the highway or pavement. Report it to the Police by telephoning 101
  • temporarily broken down or it has been in a road traffic collision. Insurance and recovery may take some time, so consider waiting before reporting a vehicle such as this to the council.

Reports of abandoned vehicles are on the rise nationally, and Eden is no exception. Almost all vehicles that are reported as abandoned to the council turn out not to be, and after a short time they are moved by the owner. Residential spaces, free long-term parking and householders owning several vehicles all contribute to parking disputes and problems. Please consider these genuine reasons why a vehicle may be parked on your street or why it has not moved for several weeks:

  • the owner is visiting a friend or family member
  • the owner of the vehicle is sick or elderly and does not drive the vehicle regularly
  • it is free, long term parking. Although you may not think it is fair, if a vehicle is legally parked then this is not justification to report it as abandoned
  • the vehicle is broken down and awaiting recovery.

Report parking problems

Report a parking problem on the Cumbria County Council website, they operate the residential parking scheme on our behalf.

To report a vehicle to the Police

To report a vehicle causing an obstruction or a danger, telephone the Police, on 101, or email 101@cumbria.police.uk.

The Police have powers to remove any vehicle left in a position causing a danger or obstruction on the highway immediately.

Report an abandoned vehicle

Report an abandoned vehicle online you need to know the vehicle make, model, registration and exact location and explain why you think the vehicle is abandoned.

Alternatively if you want to discuss it before making a report, contact an Environmental Enforcement Officer.

What we do

  • If a member of the public reports an abandoned vehicle to us, our Environmental Enforcement Officers will investigate the vehicle. If our enquiries indicate that the vehicle may be abandoned, we will attempt to contact the owner first before removing it. Identifying the owner may take some time. Once found, we will advise them on a course of action which may lead to the removal of their vehicle.

  • If we cannot identify the owner, we would look to take enforcement action. This will usually result in the removal, storage and disposal of the vehicle.

  • We may recover costs incurred in removing, storing and disposing of the vehicle from the owner or landowner as necessary, and may also serve a fixed penalty notice of £200 on the owner of the vehicle. If the owner does not pay the penalty, they may be taken to Court, receive a fine of up to £2,500, and sent to prison for up to 3 months.

  • We will not investigate anonymous abandoned vehicle reports.

Checking that a vehicle is taxed

Find out if a vehicle has up-to-date tax on GOV.UK. You will need the full registration of the vehicle.

Report an untaxed vehicle to the DVLA only if a vehicle is untaxed and used or kept on the public road.

Only report a vehicle as abandoned if it does not have valid road tax and fulfils several other criteria from the list at the top of this page.

Vehicles parked on private land

To find out who the registered keeper of a vehicle parked on private land, a landowner must contact the DVLA in writing. They will need to complete a V888 form to apply for information from the DVLA’s vehicle records.

Request information about a vehicle or its registered keeper from DVLA on GOV.UK to access the V888 form, which applies to you. If you request this information, there is a small fee to pay. You must have reasonable cause to ask for the information. By doing this, landowners may be able to find information to resolve the issue directly with the registered keeper.

Get vehicle information from the DVLA on GOV.UK to find out if a vehicle has up-to-date tax and MOT.

Companies that display parking enforcement charges or penalties in a private car park should not contact the council and should use their own legal powers to deal with illegally parked vehicles. If a member of public thinks a vehicle may be abandoned in a private car park then they should contact the relevant parking enforcement company or business.

Vehicles abandoned on the M6 motorway

Telephone Highways England on 0300 123 5000 to report an abandoned vehicle on the M6 motorway and the A66 in Cumbria.

Alternatively, email info@highwaysengland.co.uk if this is not an emergency.

Last updated: Tuesday, 6 September, 2022.