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Can I remove a registered owner on a vehicle that I am the lien holder of?

Everett, WA |

I loaned a vehicle to some friends, contingent on their paying me an agreed amount for the car. They have not paid me in 6 months, and when I tried to obtain the keys from them (there is only 1 that will start the ignition, as it is a chipped key), they made clear that they had no intention of paying me, and intended to keep the vehicle as they felt I 'owed them that much.' I am the lien holder, however I contacted the police who stated that it was a civil matter and that I could not file a theft report. I attempted to have the car towed, as directed by the officer, however they interfered with the tow company, and plan on preventing me from obtaining the vehicle. What are my options? Can I remove them from the title? (I do not have a large sum of money to spend on a lawyer for this.)

The original amount was $3000, and in 7 months they have paid me a total of $750, which includes the down payment of $500. The car is falling into disrepair and will likely cost me $600 to fix + $1000 to get it rekeyed, in addition to the $2250 still owed and whatever time and towing expenses.

Attorney Answers 2


  1. Unfortunately, it sounds as though you are going to have to sue them to get your money or the car back. You did not say how much they owed you, but take a look at the limits in small claims court and see if you could sue them there. If so, you will not need to have a lawyer.


  2. I will only assume that you do not have any paperwork on this matter, ie. a contract for the sale of the car, financing agreements, etc. For future reference, you can put right into the agreement what happens if payment is not paid. It does not have to be very complicated, just simple language will do. For this instance, I am afraid that you are going to be stuck suing this guy to get your car back. If and when you do be sure to include all the damages that you listed in your post.

    My comments are not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship, are not confidential, and are not intended to constitute legal advice. Proper legal advice can only be given by an attorney who agrees to represent you, who reviews the facts of your specific case, who does not have a conflict of interest preventing the representation, and who is licensed as an attorney in the state where the law applies. less

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