Private Property Vehicle/Boat Liens
A Private Property Lien is for an owner, or agent of the owner of property, that is in possession of a vehicle or vessel that has been left abandoned or unwanted, and title to sell or dispose is unavailable. You cannot have a claim for parts or repairs, however, you can claim storage fees from the time you start/file your lien.
What is a lienholder?
A lienholder is the person or entity who has interest in the vehicle due to storage, repairs, and/or towing costs.
When may you begin a lien sale?
A lien becomes effective at the time of possession. However, you can only charge storage for 15 day's prior to filing your lien with the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
How do you know what type of lien you need to file? (under $4000, over $4000 etc.)
No persons at ASAP Lien Sales can determine the value of a vehicle for you. We can advise you on how the value of your vehicle relates to the type of lien you should file. After submitting your order, we can help determine that with you.
What we will need from you?
1. We will need some basic information about you, and where the vehicle/vessel is being stored.
2. Name and address of the of the person who left the vehicle/boat in your possession.
3. Date of possession
4. Value of the vehicle/vessel.
5. Your posted storage rate.
6. The year, make, model, license number, vehicle ID (vin) and engine number if a motorcycle or ATV. For vessels, the -CF- number or the hull number, builder, type (fiberglass, wood, steel, aluminum), And Length. If the vessel has a trailer we will also need the same information as for a vehicle.
7. Possession of the Vehicle/Vessel. Loss of possession immediately stops your lien. Moving the vehicle to another location also stops your lien.
How Long does it take to complete a lien sale?
Vehicles under $4000 and boat under $1500, approximately 35 days.
Vehicles over $4000 and boat over $1500, usually 90 to 120 days.
How much storage should you charge?
Storage rates are not regulated by the State of California. If you are a business who makes it a practice to regularly store vehicles, your daily storage rate should be clearly posted within your customer's view. A lien sale will typically provide you with no more than 60 days of storage at your posted rate. However, if the vehicle has out of state plates, if the vehicle ID has been altered or removed, if a person of interest arrives after the lien sale has been started, or if the lien sale has been opposed and we have received a Letter of Continuation from the California Department of Motor Vehicles, or if the vehicle's value be determined to be more than $4,000.00 you may be eligible for up to 120 days of storage at your posted rate.
Who determines the value of the vehicle?
A public agency (DMV, CHP etc.) can place an estimated value on the vehicle. If the public agency fails to or refuses to provide an estimated value within three days, you can determine the estimated value. Value of the vehicle = "Value As Is".
What if there is a legal owner of the vehicle?
The legal owner must be notified within 15 days for storage charges to continue. If they are not notified before the 15 days, the legal owner can only be charged for the first 15 days and then commencing again three days after written notice has been sent to them.
Can someone stop my lien sale?
YES. Any person known to have an interest in the vehicle may stop your lien by filing a Declaration of Opposition with the California Department of Motor Vehicles within the time frame allowed by law (Typically within 10 days of mailing the Notice of Pending Lien Sale.) A Declaration of Opposition is (and must) be included with the Notice of Pending Lien Sale we mail to all Registered Owners, Legal Owners and Interested Parties.
What if someone stops (opposes) your lien sale?
If you are notified by the California Department of Motor Vehicles or by a representative of ASAP Lien Sales that a valid Declaration of Opposition has been received, you have the following options:
1. Obtain a release of interest from the opposer.
2. File a court action against the opposer within 30 days, and receive a judgment in your favor.
3. Determine that the opposer cannot be served at the address indicated on the Declaration of Opposition (You will need documentation from a process server or Marshall to proceed with your lien sale).
Regardless of which of the three options you pursue, a DMV authorization to continue will be required before you can proceed with your lien sale. Therefore, we advise you to forward any and all documentation you receive regarding an opposed lien sale to our office. We will need to file your documents with the California Department of Motor Vehicles so that we may receive the appropriate continuation documents on your behalf.
Can you conduct a lien sale on a vehicle located out of state?
No. If the vehicle in your possession has California license plates and you are out-of-state, you must follow the lien sale laws of that state. However, if the vehicle in your possession is located within California, we can lien it even if it has out-of-state plates.
What do you do with the personal property in the vehicle?
No lien shall attach to any personal property in the vehicle. The personal property in or on the vehicle shall be given to the current registered owner upon demand (personal property does not include wheels, radios, speakers or anything attached to the vehicle). The lienholder shall not be responsible for personal property after the lien sale date.
What do you do on the day of sale?
The vehicle must be available for inspection at least one hour prior to sale. A lien sale is a public sale and anyone with an interest, including the the general public or those claiming an interest in the vehicle, are welcome to attend and bid on the vehicle. Bidding generally starts at what is owed - sealed bids are not allowed.
What happens after the lien sale?
Sign and date all lien sale documents and deliver them to the purchaser at the time of sale. The purchaser is granted FIVE days to submit a completed and signed set of lien sale documents to any authorized California Department of Motor Vehicles field office.
What if you sell the vehicle for more than you are owed?
If you sell the vehicle for more than you are owed, you must remit any excess monies received to the Department of Motor Vehicles, Lien Sale Section, 2415 1st Ave., Sacramento, CA 95818 for deposit into the Motor Vehicle Account, State Transportation Fund. Remit with a completed copy of the Certificate of Lien Sale.
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What if your customer pays part of their bill?
Accepting ANY amount of money from your customer will invalidate your lien! Once you accept any money from your customer, the lien sale is canceled.
Please Note: No owners or persons employed by ASAP Lien Sales are licensed to provide legal advice. The information provided here should be treated as an aid to understanding the law concerning vehicle lien sales in the State of California. If you have questions concerning the law or your rights, we advise you to seek legal advice from a licensed professional.
What ASAP Lien Sales will do for you.
We will supply all documents and DMV fees necessary to apply for the Authorization to Conduct a Lien Sale. We will notify all registered and legal owner(s) and known parties of interest of the pending lien sale. We will run the required newspaper advertisement (cost of the ad is additional), and we will notify you of the sale date and provide all final lien sale documentation for transfer of title, or salvage, approximately 12 days prior to the sale day.
You lost your title and can't find the seller who sold you the vehicle. Can you do a lien sale?
No. You cannot conduct a lien sale on a vehicle in which you have a monetary interest. You must apply for a duplicate title from the DMV.
Do you have to register the vehicle after the sale?
NO, lien documents do not expire, however, DMV fees will continue to accrue. If the vehicle registration expired while in your possession and you are a dealer, lessor retailer, garage, or operator of a towing service, the buyer has 20 days from the lien sale purchase date to pay fees without penalty, or pay a transfer fee and a planned non-operation fee. Otherwise, a planned non-op must be filed prior to the vehicle expiration date or penalty fees are due. If the vehicle came into your possession with an expired registration, the buyer must pay all back registration fees and penalties. If the vehicle is sold to a licensed junk, scrap, or wrecking facility, all fees and penalities are waived.
Simply, prior tickets for parking violations and vehicular infractions are not the buyer's responsibility. If the vehicle comes into your possession with expired registration, the buyer will be required to pay the fees and the penalties to properly register the vehicle. If the vehicle registration expired while in your possession, the buyer can usually pay the fees without paying a penalty if registered within the allotted time.
This page was last updated: April 22, 2021