Report of sale protects car sellers from lax buyers

The in basket: Marlene Cross of Silverdale says she has gotten four parking tickets sent to her since she sold a car last year, because the person who bought the car and is getting the tickets hasn’t transferred the title.

In each case, she has had to go to the ticketing agency with proof that she held up her end of the car deal by filing a report of sale with the state Department of Licensing.

Since the sold car had handicapped license plates, she also wonders what’s become of them. She has been issued new ones for the car she subsequently bought.

The out basket: Brad Benfield of the Department of Licensing says, “While this is not an overly common problem, it does happen and it’s a real inconvenience when it does and illustrates the importance of filing a seller’s report of sale.

“State law requires the buyer of a vehicle to transfer the title within 15 days. To encourage buyers transfer the vehicle into their name in a timely manner, there is a financial penalty of $50 on the sixteenth day and another $2 per day after that up to a maximum of $125.

“We assess that penalty at the time the title is transferred. In cases where the purchaser is avoiding doing that, expiring tabs usually forces them to do so.

“State law also requires the seller to file a seller’s report of sale within five days.

“Thankfully, Ms. Cross did file a seller’s report of sale and retained a copy. While it doesn’t completely eliminate inconveniences like she is experiencing, it at least allows people to resolve these situations without having to pay the tickets or towing and impound charges.

“The seller’s report of sale exists to help protect the seller from being held responsible for the actions of the person who buys a vehicle and doesn’t transfer the title right away.

“We require the report of sale because the records in our vehicle database do not change until a transaction is processed to transfer title from one owner to another. This means that until the new owner transfers the title, the previous owner remains on the record as the registered owner. However, when a vehicle is sold and the seller’s report of sale is filed, we add a flag to the record indicating a seller’s report is on file and append the information provided on the seller’s report about the new owner to any request for ownership information about a vehicle received from a tow company. This is why it is important to file a seller’s report right after you sell a vehicle.

“This also would be a good opportunity,” Brad said, “to remind everyone who has special license plates for persons with disabilities that state law (RCW 46.19.060) requires individuals with them to remove these plates when the vehicle is sold or ownership is otherwise transferred to someone else. These plates can be transferred to another vehicle, disposed of, or returned to a vehicle licensing office.”



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