When is a Vehicle Quiet Title Action Necessary?
A quiet title action is used when a vehicle is unable to be titled in the name of a new owner through the traditional title process. Examples of when this might occur would be an older vehicle that was assembled using parts from other vehicles or if the VIN numbers on the vehicle were altered by a previous owner. Additionally, a vehicle quiet title action may be necessary if the buyer loses the signed title prior to re-titling the vehicle and is unable to reach the seller to obtain a duplicate title.
Although a vehicle quiet title is a rather straight forward process, it should only be used when there are no other options for titling a vehicle. The entire process takes between 45-90 days and all costs related to the quiet title will be in addition to the regular fees for titling and registering a vehicle.
What is the Process for a Vehicle Quiet Title Action?
A quiet title action is essentially a lawsuit in which you ask the court to declare the plaintiff as the rightful owner of the property. Quiet title actions are most commonly used to clear title issues on real estate, but also can be used on personal property such as vehicles, RV’s and campers.
The first step in filing a quiet title action is to file the petition with the court requesting the quiet title. The petition will name the Department of Revenue and potentially the Highway Patrol depending on the reasons for filing the quiet title action. Additionally, the registered owners and/or sellers of the vehicle will also need to be named as defendants as the result of the court action will be eliminating any ownership interest they had the in the vehicle.
In the majority of cases, the former owners will not respond to the lawsuit. This is because the have already sold the vehicle and the entire result of the lawsuit will be transferring the ownership of the vehicle. With that being said, the former owners would also have the option of filing an answer that either admits or denies that you purchased the vehicle.
If the defendants do not file an answer, the court will enter default judgment against former owners and the Department of Revenue/Highway Patrol will consent to the entry of a consent judgment that orders the vehicle be titled in the name of the plaintiff. If the defendants file an answer alleging they did not sell the vehicle, the matter will be set for a trial and the court will be asked to determine the rightful owner of the vehicle.
The entire process generally takes between 45-90 days from start to finish, but this time period could vary depending on the specifics of your situation.
How Much does a Vehicle Quiet Title Action Cost?
The biggest factor that will affect the cost of filing a vehicle quiet title action is if you hire an attorney or file the matter pro se (without an attorney). Attorneys fees for such matters may vary, but most attorneys will likely charge a flat rate for handling these matters. Our office charges a flat rate of $350 for uncontested vehicle quiet title actions.
In addition to legal fees, there will be certain costs that must be paid in order to file the action. The court costs for filing a quiet title action depends on the state where the action will be filed. In Kansas, the court costs will be $196. In Missouri, the court costs are $105.00. There is also a fee for serving the defendants a copy of the lawsuit, which is $15/defendant in Kansas and $30/defendant in Missouri. Finally, if we have to post notice in the newspaper, the newspaper charges between $130 and $160.. These fees are in addition to any legal fees and must be paid whether or not you hire an attorney.
What if I don’t live close to you?
We can handle quiet title actions for vehicles throughout the states of Kansas and Missouri. As no court appearances are required, you do not need to be close to our office.
If I hire you, what will I need to do?
In the majority of cases, we can handle the vehicle quiet title on your behalf from start-to-finish. You will not be required to appear in court and when the case is completed, we will provide you with a signed Judgment that you can take to the DMV to have the vehicle titled.
Where can I get more information?
Kansas Legal Services has published a Guide with information regarding vehicle quiet title actions. They have also published forms that can be used by pro se filers. We are not aware of a similar resource for Missouri, but the Missouri Courts do publish various pro se forms that could potentially be used as a reference for Missouri quiet title actions.