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Many or all of the companies featured here provide compensation to us. This is how we maintain our free service for consumers. Advertiser Disclosure

Many or all of the companies featured here provide compensation to us. This is how we maintain our free service for consumers. Compensation, along with hours of in-depth editorial research, determines where & how companies appear below. Advertiser Disclosure

Many or all of the companies featured here provide compensation to us. This is how we maintain our free service for consumers. Advertiser Disclosure

If you are in California and have loaned money to someone who has used their car as collateral, it is important to know your options if you are not being paid back. One of the most effective ways to protect your financial interests is by putting a lien on the car. A lien ensures that you have a legal claim over the vehicle until the loan is repaid. In this article, we will discuss the steps involved in putting a lien on a car in California. When in debt, you can also learn more about these two options debt settlement vs bankruptcy.

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Step 1: Determine if You Have the Right to Place a Lien

Before you can put a lien on a car, you need to make sure you have the legal right to do so. In California, you can only place a lien on a car if you have a valid title to the vehicle or if you have a security interest in the car. A security interest means that you have a legal claim to the vehicle as collateral for a loan.

Step 2: Draft a Lien Agreement

Once you have determined that you have the right to place a lien on the car, you need to draft a lien agreement. This agreement should include the following information:

  • The full name and address of the borrower
  • The make, model, and year of the car
  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of the car
  • The amount of money loaned and the terms of repayment
  • The date the lien goes into effect
  • The signature of both the borrower and the lender

It is important to have this agreement drafted by an attorney to ensure that all the necessary legal language is included and that the lien is properly filed with the appropriate government agencies.

Step 3: File the Lien with the DMV

In California, liens must be filed with the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). To do this, you will need to complete a Certificate of Lien Sale or Transfer (REG 168A) form. This form must be completed in its entirety and signed by both the lender and the borrower. You will also need to pay a fee to file the lien.

Step 4: Notify the Borrower

How to Put a Lien on a Car in California: Protecting Your Financial Interests

After the lien has been filed with the DMV, you must notify the borrower that a lien has been placed on their car. This notification should be done in writing and should include:

  • The date the lien was filed
  • The amount of money owed
  • The terms of repayment

It is important to keep a copy of this notification for your records.

Step 5: Wait for Payment

Once the lien has been filed and the borrower has been notified, you must wait for them to repay the loan. If they fail to do so, you can take legal action to repossess the car and sell it to recoup your losses.

In California, repossession is allowed without a court order as long as it is done without a breach of the peace. This means that you cannot use force or threaten the borrower in any way.

Step 6: Release the Lien

Once the loan has been repaid, you must release the lien on the car. To do this, you will need to complete a Release of Liability (REG 166) form. This form must be signed by the lender and filed with the DMV. Once the lien has been released, the borrower will be able to transfer ownership of the car.

Conclusion

Putting a lien on a car in California is a process that requires careful attention to detail and knowledge of the legal requirements. By following these steps, you can protect your financial interests and ensure that you receive repayment for any loans made using a car as collateral. Remember to always consult with an attorney when drafting any legal agreements or filing liens.

FAQs









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What is a lien on a car in California?

A lien on a car in California is a legal claim placed on a vehicle by a creditor, typically a lender, to secure repayment of a debt owed by the vehicle owner.

How can I put a lien on a car in California?

To put a lien on a car in California, you must have a valid and enforceable debt owed to you by the vehicle owner. You can then file a lien with the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) by completing the necessary paperwork and paying the required fees.

What information do I need to include in a lien filing?

When filing a lien on a car in California, you will need to provide the vehicle’s identification number (VIN), the owner’s name and address, details of the debt owed, and your contact information as the lienholder.

Are there any specific deadlines for filing a lien in California?

Yes, in California, you must file a lien within 90 days from the date the debt was incurred or within 10 days of repossession of the vehicle, whichever is later.

Can I put a lien on a car if there is already an existing lien?

No, you cannot put a lien on a car in California if there is already an existing lien. Only one lien can be held against a vehicle at a time.

What happens after I file a lien in California?

After filing a lien with the California DMV, the lien will be recorded on the vehicle’s title, indicating that there is a debt owed. This can affect the owner’s ability to sell or transfer the vehicle until the debt is satisfied.

How long does a lien stay on a car in California?

In California, a lien on a car remains in effect until the debt is fully paid off and released by the lienholder. Once the debt is satisfied, the lienholder must provide a lien release to remove the lien from the vehicle’s title.

Can I enforce a lien in California if the debt is not repaid?

Yes, if the debt remains unpaid, you may take legal action to enforce the lien. This can involve seeking a court judgment, obtaining a court-ordered repossession, or pursuing other legal remedies available to collect the debt.

Can I transfer a lien to another party in California?

No, in California, you cannot transfer a lien from one party to another. If you sell the debt to someone else, they would need to file a new lien in their name.

How can I protect my financial interests when putting a lien on a car in California?

To protect your financial interests, it is advisable to ensure the debt agreement is well-documented, consult with an attorney if necessary, and keep accurate records of all communications and payments related to the debt. Additionally, staying informed about the specific legal requirements and deadlines for filing a lien in California is crucial.

Glossary

  • Lien: A legal claim or right against a property, in this case, a car, as security for the payment of a debt or obligation.
  • Financial interests: Assets, investments, or financial resources that an individual or entity has a stake in or stands to benefit from.
  • Car title: A legal document that establishes ownership of a vehicle.
  • Secured debt: A debt that is backed by collateral, such as a car, which can be seized if the debt is not repaid.
  • Unsecured debt: A debt that does not have collateral attached to it and is not directly tied to a specific asset.
  • Creditor: A person or entity to whom money is owed, typically a lender or financial institution.
  • Debtor: An individual or entity that owes money to a creditor.
  • Repossession: The act of seizing a vehicle or property due to non-payment or default on a loan or debt.
  • California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV): The state agency responsible for vehicle registration, issuing titles, and enforcing various vehicle-related laws and regulations.
  • Notice of lien: A legal document that informs interested parties, including potential buyers and creditors, about the existence of a lien on a car.
  • Lienholder: The individual or entity that holds the legal right to a lien on a car.
  • Release of lien: A legal document that removes a lien from a car’s title once the debt or obligation associated with the lien has been satisfied.
  • Financed car: A vehicle that was purchased with the assistance of a loan or financing arrangement.
  • Loan agreement: A legal contract that outlines the terms, conditions, and repayment obligations associated with a loan.
  • Default: The failure to fulfill a financial obligation, such as making loan payments on time.
  • Principal amount: The initial or original amount of money borrowed or owed.
  • Interest: The additional amount of money charged by a lender or creditor for borrowing money, calculated as a percentage of the principal amount.
  • Collateral: An asset or property pledged as security for a loan or debt.
  • UCC-1 Financing Statement: A legal form that provides information about a secured transaction, typically used to establish a lien on personal property, including cars.
  • Foreclosure: The legal process by which a lender or lienholder takes possession of a vehicle or property due to the debtor’s failure to repay the debt.
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Paola Ponce is a skilled writer who specializes in tax-related topics. Her expertise and knowledge in the field have made her a valuable contributor to several leading tax publications. Paola earned her bachelor's degree in accounting from the University of Texas at Austin. She started her career as a tax consultant for a mid-sized accounting firm, where she advised clients on tax planning, compliance, and audit defense. Paola's passion for writing eventually led her to pursue a career in journalism. She began working as a freelance writer for various tax publications, covering topics such as tax reform, tax planning for small businesses, and tax implications of cryptocurrency. Paola's writing skills and expertise in tax matters soon caught the attention of a prominent tax relief website, where she now works as a staff writer. Her work involves producing informative articles on a variety of tax-related topics, including tax relief programs, tax scams, and tax preparation tips. Paola is known for her ability to translate complex tax concepts into easily understandable language, making tax information accessible to a broader audience. Her work has been recognized for its accuracy, clarity, and thoroughness. Paola believes that it is important for individuals and businesses to be informed about their tax obligations and to take advantage of the various tax relief options available to them. She is committed to helping her readers navigate the complex world of taxes and make informed decisions that benefit their financial well-being.  

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