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gruberv8

Title companies

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The best way to deal with this situation is to Petition the court for a declaration of ownership. They are relatively painless and about the same cost as one from one of the title companies. I have done dozens of these Petitions for clients and not only does the owner of the vehicle get a Pennsylvania certificate of title but also the owner gets a court order declaring him the owner, free and clear of all other interests. This extinguishing of interests is what makes the court route so attractive. Also, I am aware of a few instances where folks went through a "questionable" titling process only to have it bite them in the end.

Finally, yes, you can transfer a car without a title in Pennsylvania but you cannot get Penndot to give you a title to it or register it. The Uniform Commercial Code governs car purchase transactions and states that failure to deliver a certificate of title to a purchaser does not abrogate the sale.

Also Pennsylvania does still recognize the common law "repairman’s lien" however traveling down that path is not recommended for the "do it yourself litigator" as it requires a declaration by the Court of Common Pleas. The "owner" of the vehicle must have assented to you providing services and then failed to pay you. If you are dealing with the true "owner" and the "owner" did assent then you should be deemed to have a perfected possessory lien in the vehicle for the value of your services. Now if there is a security interest in the vehicle in favor of another or a bank, then you cannot assert a repairman’s lien. See Associates Financial Services Co. v. O'Dell, 491 Pa. 1 (1980).

Just about a clear as mud!!!

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Spoken like a true attorney. How likely is it that a private citizen could actually get a clear title through the court petition process without the aid and expense of an attorney? Can it in fact be done at the District Justice level as stated above? So there is no automatic "mechanic's lien", as commonly understood, allowing a shop to keep or sell a customer's vehicle if payment is not made unless there is a contract in force stating such? Was I correct in stating above that it requires a judge to force payment or allow you to sell the vehicle? Thanks for your clearing up these issues. As always, these laws vary state to state.

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The use of the legal system naturally requires some legal skill, knowledge and ability, not unlike the restoration of an automobile. It is possible that lay person could get through the legal system, but someone trained in the law will make that trip much easier (albeit at an expense that person). I don't believe that the question of whether or not the declaration of ownership of an automobile is within the jurisdiction of a district justice has been settled yet. This is a question which seems unsettled by my reading of the law. Accordingly, anyone who takes this route should take it with caution until such time as this jurisdictional question has been resolved. Another reason to stay away from the district justice route is that, in Pennsylvania, the district justices are not "Courts of Record" meaning that there is no transcript of the proceedings of the cases heard before the district justice. If the petition is brought in the Court of Common Pleas, there will forever be a record of the proceeding and a transcript can be made of any proceeding or hearing held before the Court which will forever preserve the moment.

There is no automatic "mechanic's lien". Even insofar as mechanic's liens are applicable to improvements to real estate, there still must be a judicial determination prior to any action being commenced for the sale of the property liened. Common law repairman's liens in Pennsylvania are rare and unfortunately somewhat archaic.

Finally, contracts are only as good as (1) the intentions of the parties and (2) the actions of the parties. Even with a written contract, if the intention of one party is the cheat another it can and unfortunately does happen. But in any event having a CLEAR and SIGNED (by both parties) written contract, which is amended from time to time as the scope of the project grows or shrinks is still your best bet.

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I post on a number of boards. Over the years, I've learned, at least, one thing. Thank God Almighty that I don't live in Pennsylvania. They have the most Draconian motor vehicle laws in the known universe. If that Jeep was in California, I would have a clear title and a current tag in a few days, all legal, approved and signed off by the CHP and the CA DMV.

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I found this site which has some information on getting a PA title for vintage, title-less cars. I've not yet found any answer as to how to get a title for a car that never had a title, such as my 1906 Maxwell. Since this car pre-dates titles in most states one would have to be created. PennDOT has no rules about that, apparently. From the site:

"The current laws in Pennsylvania contemplate only scenarios in which certificates of title are transferred with every vehicle transaction. Therefore, by extension, the law fails to contemplate a scenario in which a person or entity would acquire a vehicle or vehicles for which no owner can produce and accordingly transfer a certificate of title. "

Phil

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Many years ago I handled the sale of an 05 Cadillac for a friend of mine. It was sold to a gentleman in Pennsylvania and we had all the idiotic run-arounds mentioned above. When I called the Pennsylvania motor vehicle department, I got someone who told me I must be lying when I said that there was no such thing as a title for a 1905 car in Rhode Island... that even if you offered to pay for it, the state refused to issue one. It was only when some one from their office actually checked with the RI DMV that they learned I was telling the truth (and they only did this because the purchaser of the car was well-to-do and had some political clout). Then they agreed that they could take an official RI sales tax receipt as proof of ownership. I agree with 58Mustang above... I'm sure glad I don't live in PA and I certainly never will.

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I only know about Oklahoma and Texas. In Texas there is a procedure for a "bonded" title. If you have no title or the title is lost you post a bond and the state will authorize the issuance of a title. After a period, I believe 3 years, you can get a clear title and the bond is cancelled. In Texas the county tax assessor-collector issues vehicle titles. In Oklahoma the State Tax Commission issues vehicle titles. These are considered personal tax records and are not open to the public and you cannot trace ownership of a vehicle back through the title records. If you are the current registered owner you can get a duplicate title if your title certificate is lost or destroyed. I don't know what the procedure is to title from a bill of sale from a non-title state.

Back in the 90's a lot of people in Oklahoma registered and tagged their cars in Oregon due to the high price of Oklahoma registration. I think Oregon stopped doing mail order registrations.

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I recommend seriously looking into going through the Vermont DMV. They clearly spell out the regulations and the fees on their website for all of the services that they offer. This is (or was) one of the states that the title service companies were using. There is no need to use a company like Broadway when an individual with some time and attention to detail can absolutely do it on their own and for hundreds and hundreds of dollars less than a title service company charges.

Vermont works because of their current title and registration laws and the fact that they do not have any sort of residency requirements.

I have a rare Vespa Scooter that came into the US on in a container of antique furniture and was used in a movie/photo prop house. I had absolutely zero paperwork and was never titled or registered in the US. I bought it from the prop house without any paperwork (broke my own rule there), got it back together, got insurance on it, and went through Vermont to get license plates and registration (non a title).

However, since Vermont is not a title state in my particular case, I can take the registration I have into the DMV in my state as proof of ownership and get a title (after showing that Vermont is a non-title state). Or Vermont is perfectly willing to let me have a plated and registered scooter that will likely NEVER be located or operated within their state. I did it all by mail and was COMPLETELY HONEST about what I had, where I got it, what I paid for it, and where it came from. I did provide a bill of sale and the other forms as required on their website, but that's it. Vermont had zero issues. I paid the fees and the plates and registration showed up. In fact, I decided that it was so cheap to keep the Vermont registration, that I just renewed it with them.

Point being that you CAN deal with this yourself if you are patient and detail oriented and that it can be completely legal IF you are completely candid throughout the process and don't try to mislead anyone or hide anything. Just absolutely do your homework before you do anything.

You may run into problems with the fact the the vehicle (the original poster's) previously had a title. There are MANY "ifs" in this process. Nonetheless, check into Vermont...they have provisions for this.

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Thank you SG but my question concerns a car that was made up using various parts from different cars plus a lot of specialized fabrication. Unlike your situation, I am thinking of a case where there would be no existing vehicle with any identification to start with.

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Thank you SG but my question concerns a car that was made up using various parts from different cars plus a lot of specialized fabrication. Unlike your situation, I am thinking of a case where there would be no existing vehicle with any identification to start with.

Yes...my reply wasn't really a direct response to your question, but was rather a posting concerning the general subject and original poster's questions. Sorry for the confusion! I'm not sure if Broadway (or others) could work in your case.

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Scooter Guy,

From posts in this thread and others, it appears that many states have tightened up their regulations and getting a title for a paperless vehicle has become much more difficult in the last few years. How long ago did you first register the Vespa in Vermont?

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Scooter Guy,

From posts in this thread and others, it appears that many states have tightened up their regulations and getting a title for a paperless vehicle has become much more difficult in the last few years. How long ago did you first register the Vespa in Vermont?

I did this just over one year ago...

I followed the instructions carefully, sent in my money (calculated from fees stated on their website) and plate and registration showed up about 2 weeks later. I was warned "that will never work," but I figured it was worth a try to see what happened. I had been looking into Broadway at the time, but there are horror stories of states rejecting titles generated through Broadway. That was an $800 bet I didn't want to make.

In fact, I overpaid and they sent the difference back!

No previous title or registration needed, no inspection, no nothing.

The story goes that the bike was plucked off the streets of Pavia, Italy where it was still in daily use and brought back in a container. I strongly suspect that it was essentially imported illegally, but Vermont asked no questions and essentially legalized the bike. I also need to emphasize that I did not falsify documents or change any numbers. I told them what they wanted to know...nothing more, nothing less.

This would probably be harder to do with a car. Nobody seems to care that much about old scooters, they're just happy to take your money!

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Would Broadway Title Company in Alabama be able to obtain a title for a made up or replica antique car ?
Several states, NC being one of the, do not recognize a title that has been thru companies such as Broadway Title. In NC, you can have the vehicle inspected by DMV, post a bond, and in two years obtain a title in your name. I have two bonded right now and am starting the process on a third vehicle

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After reading Scooter Guy's postings I visited the Vermont DVM website. That looks like the route to take if you need to register and title a vintage vehicle for which you have no title certificate. They do not require that you be a Vermont resident. You have to pay a tax of 6% of the lesser of the NADA (www.NADAguides.com) value or the actual purchase price unless you fall into one of the classes of tax exempt owners. The DMV will give you a list of out of state (out of Vermont) officials that can certify the VIN. The form does ask for the name, address and signature of the person from whom you are purchasing the vehicle so you should have a bill of sale to submit. For an extra fee you can select from a long list of specilaity licenese plates including antique and historic.

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No immediate help but Penndot is aware of this concern as a certain someone on this forum (me) has two very early cars that do not have titles. I have discussed this concern with them and State Rep. John Lawrence. They have promised to look inot it and see if there is a remedy. From there perspective they have to look at the big picture with other vehicle categories and make sure they do not end up with a loophole.

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