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A mum claims she was forced to throw herself across her camper van bonnet to stop it being towed following a dramatic parking row with her neighbour.
Loredana Luisi says despite using the Knaus Boxster 540 van regularly, including to take her 10-year-old son Oscar to school, her neighbour Anne Kennedy signed a removal order claiming it was abandoned and untaxed.
Loredana, who lives in an apartment block in Hamble, near Southampton, told the Mirror she watched in horror as her leased camper was hauled onto a removals truck outside her flat.
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"I went out there in pyjamas and asked these people 'who are you and what is the name of your company? Can you show me some documents? Why are you taking my camper van?'," she said.
"They didn’t care and acted as if I wasn’t speaking to them. They continued taking the van into the air and putting it onto this big truck. I told them 'please stop it. I will call the police, you are stealing my van'.
"Nothing. They didn’t care. The only thing I was able to do was put my body in front of the truck to stop them moving.
"I told them 'if you want to steal my camper van you will also have to kill me because I will not move from the front of the truck until the police arrive'."
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And, despite a visit from Hampshire Police, cops said they could do nothing as it was a civil matter.
Loredana initially received a note on her camper back in June, telling told her to contact HMS Property Management Services – which oversees the building where she lives – by July 1 "to avoid further action being taken".
She said she visited the HMS offices on June 20 and was told parking the van in the car park was not allowed as they considered it "commercial vehicle".
She disputed this and the 28-day removal notice was placed on the vehicle on July 1. She responded that she disagreed and thought that was the end of the matter.
But, fast-forward to September 10, Loredana was alerted by neighbours to her camper being removed.
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A neighbour – who wished not to be named – told the Mirror the van was "definitely not abandoned because she was driving it everyday".
Vehicle owners Luisauto Caravan, based in Bari, Italy, where Loredana is originally from, said the van was taxed and insured to be used in the UK – with the rental lasting until October 31.
A logbook entry provided by Motorizzazione Civile – the Italian DVLA – appears to confirm the tax, insurance and rental agreement. But UK Tort Enforcement Services (UK TES) – the firm hired for removal – said it was unable to accept the logbook entry because the writing was not placed correctly on the document lines.
It says this had been verified to them by the UK DVLA, but the DVLA told the Mirror it had no record of speaking to UK TES.
Now, Loredana has hired solicitors RM Legal.
In a letter to UK TES on September 15, the legal firm said: “It is clearly a serious issue for yourselves that you have unlawfully seized and retained our client’s vehicle due to your inability to recognise lawful tax documents in Italy.
“We strongly recommend that you obtain independent advice on the legitimacy of the documentation.”
Loredana said she had been leasing the van on and off since February 2021 – but never for more than a few weeks or months at a time, before then returning it back to Italy.
RM Legal says its understanding is the van was “permitted to travel abroad for 6 months” at a time.
They continued: “This vehicle was not in the UK continually between August 2021 and April 2022 as suggested by the management company and has operated within the legally allowed times in the UK.”
A spokesman for UK TES claimed the camper was "legally removed after a 28-day Tort was applied and spent".
"After the 28 days the owner does not own the vehicle any longer and the housing association/management are liable for any legal action that may take place," they continued.
"Our service is free we do not charge for the removal of vehicles that are abandoned on private land and it's free for housing associations."
A spokesperson for Luisauto Caravan said: "All our rental vehicles are legally insured both in Italy and abroad and taxed. We hope that this absurd affair will be concluded as soon as possible."
A spokesperson for the property management company said: “Despite extensive efforts to resolve this situation we were ultimately left with no option but to arrange the removal of this vehicle.
"Ms Luisi failed to engage as an owner of the vehicle and has failed to comply with the terms of the lease, despite our continued encouragement to do so.
"It is unfortunate that matters have reached this level when a sensible and amicable solution could so easily have been achieved. The lease agreement is very clear, and we have at all times acted professionally."
The Mirror contacted Ms Kennedy but was told she did not wish to comment.
National Parking Control has also been contacted.
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- Neighbours from hell
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