"Would you write about selling a vehicle? I have friends who sold a car and months later they received information that the car was in an impound lot. The purchaser had failed to register the car in his name and since the car was still registered to them they were legally liable. How does one insure that the new owner re-registers the vehicle?"
This is an area of civil law that I am not familiar with, so I asked Hammerco for legal advice. This is what was related to me.
"In my opinion the registered owner would bear responsibility to the towing/storage company. The seller would then have to chase after the buyer for indemnification. This may seem harsh, but the reason that we have a system of registration is to ensure that liabilities and responsibilities are clearly designated. It is the vendor's responsibility to ensure that registration is changed as much as it is the buyer's. If I was giving advice to the seller, I'd be telling them not to pay the account and have the matter addressed in court, so that the purchaser could be brought in by third party proceedings to place responsibility where it ought lie."
In Steps for the Seller, ICBC advises: “To complete the transfer, take the registration and transfer/tax form to an Autoplan broker. We strongly recommend going together with the buyer to ensure that the registration transfer is processed in a timely manner and that your name and any insurance and licence products are removed from the vehicle registration record.This is important in avoiding any possible liability claims associated with the future operation of the vehicle by the purchaser. If you cannot visit the Autoplan broker with the buyer, keep the seller's copy (with original signatures from both you and the seller) for your records.”
Form APV9T, the transfer/tax document, is critical to protect yourself. Complete it fully and if you don't wish to follow ICBC's advice above, have the buyer show photo ID. Insure the ID matches the form and keep the seller's copy of the form for your records.
I have been presented with little more than a vehicle description and a signature on a document that contained all copies during a traffic stop. This usually ended up in trouble for the buyer, but it also shows that the seller did not know the risks involved.
The purchaser is then required by the Motor Vehicle Act to present the form and register the vehicle within 10 days of the transfer. Many do not and the vehicle may be resold a number of times before it is registered again. No doubt this is done to avoid paying sales tax.
ICBC will tell you if the vehicle you sold is no longer registered in your name once it has been re-registered if you check with them.
If this does not happen within a reasonable time, you may wish to lodge a complaint with police and report the transfer to Consumer Taxation to force the buyer's hand.
Of course, this would assume that you have kept a copy of the transfer form, that the form was completely filled out at the time of sale and you have taken steps to insure the identity of the buyer.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.