Consumer Title Resource | Since 2009!

Solving Vehicle Title Problems – Webinar

One of the most common types of issues we deal with clients involves difficult title problems for motor vehicles. The reason it’s difficult is the title is a legal government document that’s issued only by government agencies, and unless you have all your ducks in a row, they’re going to give you a hard time on issuing you a title. This is why a lot of people run into these types of problems getting a new title in their name for a motor vehicle.

Overview of the Presentation
We’re going to jump right in and talk about a few subjects. In the presentation, we will cover the requirements for getting a title, the difference between a duplicate title and a title recovery, abandoned vehicles and the misconceptions surrounding them, mechanics liens, the famous or infamous Vermont loophole, lien releases and lien holder issues, bonded titles, court order titles, and how all these relate to the new calendar year 2023. If you have questions during the presentation, type them into the chat. We’ll keep an eye on them, and if they’re things that will be covered in our regular content, we’ll address those when that subject comes up. We’ll also have some time at the end to answer other questions from the chat or from our live viewers that are emailing in. Expect about 25 minutes for the primary presentation and additional time for questions.

What is a Title and Why is it Needed?
The first topic to get into is what a title is and why it’s needed. A title is a legal government document, as you can see in the picture on the left. This is an example of a vehicle title. Notice it is a certificate, not just a blank piece of paper. It’s not something you can print off from the Internet; it’s an official form, kind of like money, with scroll work and watermarks on the back. It’s issued by an agency, usually the Department of Motor Vehicles, Secretary of State, or Bureau of Motor Vehicles, depending on the state. Remember, you can’t buy a title from a company or download one from the internet; it only comes from the government agency.

Getting a Title
If we look at an example from the state of Oregon, one of the requirements for getting a title is having the original title or ownership document from the last owner. In order to get a new title, you’re supposed to have the last title from the last owner signed over to you. But if you’re here watching this, it’s probably because you want to know how to get a title if you don’t have the old title. If you had the old title, you wouldn’t need much help; you could just bring it to the DMV, turn it in, and they would give you a new title.

Duplicate Title vs. Title Recovery
A duplicate title is a topic many people ask about. A lost title or duplicate title is when you had a title with your name on it printed from the DMV, and you just lost it and want to get a replacement. The only person who can apply for a replacement title certificate is the person whose name is on the title records. Nobody else can apply for a lost title duplicate replacement. If you try to get one as a replacement, they’re going to look it up and say, “No, this title is in the name of Joe Schmoe, and you’re not Joe Schmoe.” The alternative is to pursue other methods such as bonded titles, civil liens, or the Vermont loophole.

Bonded Titles and Alternatives
You could pursue a bonded title, a civil lien (court order title), the Vermont loophole, or a prior owner transfer. We will cover all these in more detail. It’s important to avoid mechanics liens or abandoned vehicles. Specifically, an abandoned vehicle is a status where everyone abandons it, and you have to surrender it to the state, which then auctions it off.

The Vermont Loophole
The Vermont loophole is infamous, often mentioned in various media. It involves applying by mail to the state of Vermont to get a registration ownership without a title. You only need a bill of sale. However, there are downsides, such as paying sales tax based on the vehicle’s full retail book value and the risk of your state not accepting the Vermont registration as a title.

Civil Lien (Court Order Title)
A civil lien or court order title is a powerful way to get a title. You file documents with the court in your county, including a petition, a letter of non-interest, and an affidavit. The court may require proof of possession and identity, and then they give you a judgment of ownership, which you can use to get your title from the DMV.

Bonded Titles
A bonded title involves getting a surety bond that backs up your ownership claims. It is like an insurance policy for the DMV, guaranteeing your statements. However, it’s a branded title, which can make it difficult to sell or finance. Some states don’t offer bonded titles, so you need to check if your state does.

Prior Owner Transfer
A prior owner transfer involves getting the last owner to get a duplicate title. You should send an official form by mail, filled out and typed up, to the last owner, making it easy for them to sign and return. Do not try contacting them by phone or email, as they might ignore you.

Lien Releases
If your vehicle has a lien on it, you need a lien release form signed to clear the title. Send the form to the lien holder, and if they don’t respond, you might need to get a court order title. Even if there’s money owed on the vehicle, many times the lien holder will release the lien if you contact them as an innocent third party.

Special Cases and Additional Resources
For vehicles with brands like salvage or rebuilt, you need to follow additional steps before getting a title. There are resources available on various websites, such as car titles, lien titles, auction titles, and more. For more complicated cases involving dealerships going out of business or needing investigative services, consult with a title agent or private investigator.

DMV Contact and Damaged Titles
Contacting the DMV can be challenging. If you need to get information, it’s best to go in person and get answers in writing. If you have a damaged title, get a new title with your name on it as soon as possible. Titles are very important documents, and getting them properly processed is crucial for ownership and future transactions.

In summary, dealing with title issues requires understanding the specific requirements and processes for obtaining a new title. Whether it’s through a duplicate title, bonded title, civil lien, or other methods, it’s important to follow the correct procedures and be aware of potential pitfalls. For further guidance, refer to the available resources and consult with experts if needed.

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