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Feeling Abandoned? Dealing With Cars That Renters Leave Behind On Your Property
by Annette West


Your tenant leaves a car on the premises after being evicted. If you are like me, you may think you can recover some of the unpaid rent by selling the car. Unfortunately I recently learned it is not an easy process. Obtaining title on a vehicle that was abandoned on your property is somewhat complicated if you are not sure who the registered owner is. (And even if you know the name and address of the registered owner, be ready to be patient and fill out a lot of forms.)


As of July 1, 1996, New Mexico came under a “cloak of confidentiality” as required by Federal mandate [Editor’s Note: this is part of the provisions of the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act]. Consequently the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) cannot provide registered owners names and addresses to the public. If you, as the lien claimant, cannot obtain the registered owner’s name and address, then the lien process cannot be completed and you cannot obtain title to the car.


I Don’t Know Who Owns The Car. Now What?

In this case your best bet is to call a towing company. If you are patient, some local companies will tow the car away for free, schedule permitting. Otherwise you can pay a nominal fee ($45 in my case) to have the car removed. What do these towing companies then do with the vehicle? As a licensed dismantler, they are able to obtain records from MVD showing the owners name and address based on the car’s VIN. They notify the registered owner, and hold the car for 44 days for the owner to claim. Thereafter they obtain title to the car and sell it for storage fees owed,  anywhere from $8 to 15 per day depending on vehicle size and storage location (indoors or outside). According to a representative from Discount Towing, “a lot of the cars are crushed because they are basically junk”.


Ideally you know the name of the registered owner, and have a good mailing address. If so, you as landl


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