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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Default Who Owns the Car?

    My 18 year old son recently bought a car that was licensed in CA from someone living in UT. My son lives in UT. My son was given a Bill of Sale. However, the person told my son that the title had been lost and that he had applied for a duplicate. Since the person had been driving the car in UT, my son assumed he was telling the truth.

    When I found that my son bought the car without a title, I immediately went into panic mode. I found out that the registration was in the name of another person in CA and never registered in the seller's name. When I contacted the registered owner, I was told that the reason the seller didn't have the title was because they still owed the registered owner $1000. The title was being held until payment was made. The registered owner had unsuccessfully been trying to track down this seller and had filled a claim in small claims court in CA. The seller has been driving the car with the registered owners plates because the registered owner never filed a Notice of Sale or Transfer.

    I contacted our local sheriff's department and asked to file a charge, assuming that the seller had done something illegal. After looking into it, the investigating deputy told me that the seller had the right to sell the car since he had already made some payments, and that the car was legally my son's. The deputy called the registered owner in CA and explained to him that this was a civil matter and that he needed to send us the title.

    The registered owner has called me and said that he is not giving up the title until he gets his money. He was nice as he could be, but feels that the car is still his until the seller pays everything he owes. He has indicated that he might give up the title if my son pays the owing debt.

    If my son owns the car, how do we get the title to register it in Utah?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Who Owns the Car?

    The deputy doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.

    The person who sold the car didn't have title, and thus whatever interest he could convey to your son did not include the title. Whether he might have a civil claim in California to obtain the title from the original owner is beside the point - as he didn't hold title he didn't own the car he was "selling" to your son, he couldn't convey title, and he lied about it.

    If he wishes, your son can try to return the car to the Utah seller for a refund, or sue the Utah seller to rescind (undo) the contract. If you want the title owner to send you the title, it sounds like you'll need to send him $1,000.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2005

    Default Re: Who Owns the Car?


    One thing to remember is that most sheriff's departments in CA do not deal with traffic issues at all - they have an MOU with the CHP for this. The better source of info on this matter would have been to the CHP or the DMV.

    Plus, you never know the experience of the deputy you speak to on the phone.

    Your son needs to get the clear title from the owner or risk losing what he has already paid.

    - Carl
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ...

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