Question: My roommate moved out and left his vehicle at my house. I have told him plenty of time to come to get it, and he hasn’t. Can I get the title in my name?
State laws differ, so you will have to contact your Department of Motor Vehicles to see if enough time has passed for this car to be declared an abandoned vehicle or not and, if it is, what steps to take to get the car titled in your name if state laws allow this.
Each state has its own procedure regarding abandoned cars and how long it has to be sitting there for the property to be considered abandoned. From what we have read, whether the vehicle is abandoned on private property, a repair shop, a parking lot, or in an impoundment lot, the process is often long and tedious, with no guarantee that you will end up with the title to the car.
If your friend does not want the car, then maybe you can meet him so that he can sign it over to you. If you can no longer contact him and either want the car removed or titled in your name so you can use it or sell it then you will need to contact your DMV and possibly police department to see what steps to take.
For example, in Franklin County, Ohio (Columbus area), the clerk of the court office notes that only a business licensed for storage or repair may obtain a title for an abandoned vehicle. If the car is left on private property, you must obtain a court order to be able to get the car titled in your name.
The Cincinnati, Ohio, clerk of the court states that if you have a car abandoned on your property, you first need to contact your local law enforcement officials, as each area has different rules on this. Some law enforcement agencies will come to your property and remove the vehicle, others will say it is on your property, and you will have to find out who the owner is and contact them. If local law enforcement will not remove the vehicle, you would need legal advice and possibly a court-ordered title to be put in your name.
Thus in Ohio, it appears that you would need a court order to get the title to the car in your name for the vehicle your roommate left. In other states or areas, it may be easier to obtain a title, but you would likely have to prove that it was abandoned.
As another state example, Delaware Title 40 Section 4001 – 4007 discusses abandoned property. Here it states that “abandoned personal property” shall be deemed to be a tangible personal property that the rightful owner has left in the care or custody of another person and has failed to maintain, pay for the storage of, exercise dominion or control over, and has failed to otherwise assert or declare the ownership rights to the tangible personal property for a period of 1 year.
Section 4002 goes on to say that upon order of the court, as provided in this chapter, any person who holds, stores, safe keeps, or otherwise is left with the possession of any abandoned personal property, including but not limited to automobiles, motorcycles, boats, and furnishings, which the owner has abandoned shall be vested with complete and absolute title to said abandoned personal property and shall have all right to sell, alienate, gift or otherwise dispose of the said abandoned personal property provided such transfer does not violate preliminary injunctions in effect.
Then section 4003, tells how to petition for the right to obtain the title of an abandoned item. The court then will try to find the owner, and if a response is given by the “owner” then a hearing is set to determine ownership of the property.
Contact your local Department of Motor Vehicles and possibly your local courthouse to see how in your area you can get your former roommate’s abandoned vehicle titled in your name.
If you are able to get the car put in your name and need to register and insure it, then you can get affordable auto insurance here with us.
— Michelle Megna contributed to this story.