Home » Articles » Titles » How to Title an Abandoned Vehicle in Pennsylvania
When you think of an abandoned vehicle, you might imagine that old rusty car that’s been sitting in your neighbor’s backyard for years. But it’s not only old and damaged vehicles that are left abandoned, sometimes private property owners find themselves in possession of abandoned vehicles that are in good working condition. Every state handles the abandoned vehicle process differently, but if you are in Pennsylvania, you may have the option to title the abandoned vehicle in your name.
A vehicle is to be considered to be abandoned if it is left inoperable and unattended on public property or highway for more than 48 hours or left on private property without the consent of the property owner for more than 24 hours.
Note: This does NOT apply to parking lots or garages unless the policy is explicitly stated and a notice is posted in public view.
If the property owner is not interested in obtaining a vehicle title or using the vehicle in any way after removal, the property owner should contact the local police department and request that they declare the vehicle abandoned. The police department will coordinate with salvage or junkyard to tow the vehicle from your private property and dispose of it.
If the property owner is not interested in obtaining a vehicle title or using the vehicle in any way after removal, the property owner may personally relocate the vehicle to a storage facility and bring an action before the district court. The property owner must provide the vehicle owner with reasonable notice then they may sell the vehicle to a sheriff’s auction and the department will sell the vehicle.
If the property owner would like to obtain a vehicle title for the abandoned vehicle on their private property, they may file a suit in common pleas court requesting that an order be entered that awards ownership of the vehicle to the landowner. This extinguishes the right to title and interest for the prior owner. Once filed, you may take the court order to PennDot and they will accept it as evidence of ownership in lieu of a physical title. To obtain the vehicle title, the court order must also accompany the state title application and all applicable fees and taxes. Additionally, the property owner must prove that they made every reasonable effort to contact the prior owner of the vehicle title transfer.
There are many methods to obtain a vehicle title that do not involve the abandoned vehicle process. Most vehicles that seem abandoned do not actually meet the criteria and some states prohibit the titling of abandoned vehicles. Before moving forward with an abandoned vehicle process, make sure that your situation meets the abandoned vehicle criteria for your state. Looking for more information about the abandoned vehicle title process? Click here!
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