How to Get Title for an Abandoned Vehicle

 In Blog

Discovering an abandoned vehicle in front of your house or on your block can be a pain. For starters, if the vehicle is run down, it can be an eyesore. It can also invite unsavory types to your neighborhood looking to see if there’s anything worth taking from the vehicle.

In the City of Vancouver right of way (like a neighborhood street), you can fill out a form to have the abandoned vehicle towed. In the Uptown or Downtown areas, if a vehicle has been left for more than 24 hours, you can call the City of Vancouver Parking at (360) 487-8650 to file a complaint. In other areas of Vancouver, the vehicle has to have been left behind for 96 hours. Fill out this form if that is the case.

But what if the car has been abandoned on your private property? There are more options here, including having it removed or even getting a title to take ownership of the vehicle. But there’s more than just an online form to fill out a number to call. Let’s take a look at both instances.

Getting a Title for an Abandoned Vehicle

There could be many reasons for somebody to leave a vehicle abandoned on your property. Perhaps it broke down and the owners couldn’t afford a tow. Maybe it was stolen. Or maybe the vehicle owners just didn’t want the car anymore and didn’t want to be bothered getting rid of it through proper channels.

In any case, it may not be worth the hassle to obtain a title for the car. However, if the car seems to be in decent shape, or you’re looking for a project, it might be worth a gamble. But you can’t just tow it into your shop and get to work. That would be theft! It also against the law to sell the vehicle.

To make sure everything is above board, there are three actions you can take to obtain a title for an abandoned vehicle. The first recommendation is to contact the Clark County Title and Licensing Department or Washington State Department of motor vehicles to get the name and contact information of the vehicle owner.

From there, contact the owner and discuss having them sign the vehicle over to you with the title or an affidavit in lieu of title. This can be a touchy conversation, especially if the vehicle owner decides to be difficult, at this point, it might make more sense to just have the authorities tow it away.

This entails calling a registered tow company to impound the vehicle. After five days (120 hours), an Abandoned Vehicle Report has been filed, the vehicle officially becomes abandoned. The last registered owner is responsible for any costs or fees associated with removing, storing, or disposing of the vehicle.

At this point, it’s out of your hands. However, if you are really itching to work on the car (or sell it off piece by piece), you may be able to purchase the vehicle from the tow company. This could be from a direct sale or at auction. If all else fails, you can contact your local court and petition for ownership.

Is the Abandoned Vehicle Junk?

It might make sense to have the abandoned car declared a junk vehicle. An authorized law enforcement agency or other certified officials can inspect a vehicle and sign off on disposal with a Junk Vehicle Affidavit (JVA). In order to qualify, the car must be three of the following:

  • At least three years old
  • Damage extensively (broken windows, up on blocks, or severe damage to the engine or transmission, etc.)
  • Inoperable at first glance
  • Worth the same or less than scrap value

If the vehicle passes that inspection, you can arrange for the removal of the vehicle or claim ownership. The JVA must be filled out entirely and the vehicle must pass the junk status inspection. When the vehicle is officially certified as “junk,” you can reach out to Clark County about titling the vehicle in your name.

When a vehicle is abandoned in your neighborhood, it can be an unsightly blot on the neighborhood. When an abandoned vehicle is on your property, now it becomes your problem. We hope the above information is helpful when you decide how to handle this situation. For other towing information, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us!

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