These Two States Were First for Something Big, and Both Let You Title Abandoned Cars

Corvette Sting Ray C2 barn find in New Jersey 9 photos
Photo: sabegizz/eBay
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While New Hampshire was the first to declare its independence from England, New Jersey was the first to sign the Bill of Rights. Thus, both states are strong in their freedom beliefs, and they have proof of that.
In some states, it is normal to consider that if you buy a property, you get it with all that's on it. It would be unusual to buy only the land and not the house built on it (unless, of course, that's stated in the bill of sale). But what if the former owner forgot to pinpoint that they had a car parked in the barn? In that situation, you may contact them and ask for the title, if there is any. Or, you could take the long road, as explained below.

The Granite state

First of all, never ask people from New Hampshire if they have an alarm clock. That was invented here in 1787 by a guy named Levi Hutchins, three years after the state adopted its constitution. The state also has the Mount Washington Auto Road, which rivals Pike's Peak, and the first to drive up here was Mr. Stanley with a Stanley Steamer frame in 1899. Thus, this state has a very long heritage when it comes to vehicles, and that helped when they made laws and rules, even those regarding abandoned vehicles.

In New Hampshire, like everywhere else in the U.S., it is illegal to abandon a vehicle, and the offender might be fined with between $100 and $500. But if you do find one and want to get the vehicle under your name, you will have to request a title search, and the DMV may perform that on the request of an attorney, private investigator, towing company, and repair garage.

Mount Washington road
Photo: Mt Wasington Auto Road/Flickr
After getting the information, you will have to send a letter with a return receipt to the certified mail of the former owner to get a bill of sale or the title. Without a proper answer, you may claim the car. Then, with a notice of compliance, verification of VIN, and the Report of Sale or Transfer of a Non-Titled Motor Vehicle filled, the buyer can get possession of that vehicle. But it is important to wait for 20 days, have the letter and returned receipt unopened, and a copy of the newspaper where you published the sale announcement.

The state of stolen cars

It is named the Garden State, and that should be calming. Yet, if you see a car that looks abandoned in Newark, most probably it was stolen. There are more cars stolen in this city than in any other one in the U.S. Therefore, you should really walk that extra mile to find out if you can grab that vehicle in your name.

If you find a vehicle on your property, the first step would be to ask for the title/lienholder at the NJ Motor Vehicle Commission (NJ MVC). Next, you must send a publication notice to the local police department where the vehicle was found. 90 days before taking the car in custody and putting up for auction, the owner must be notified by certified mail with a return receipt.

Newark Downtown \- New Jersey
Photo: Ken Lund/Flickr
Five days before the auction, you must send another notice with the location and time when the vehicle will be sold. Also, five days before the auction, you must publish an announcement regarding the sale in a newspaper where the car is located. As usual, if no people are attending the auction, the organizer may claim the vehicle from the city. That form must be submitted along with a letter on the property owner's letterhead stating that an auction was held, but no bids have been received, and no one attended. After all these steps are completed, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission will issue a title on your name.
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Editor's note: The information in this article is not legal advice; for any info regarding abandoned vehicles rules, refer to local law enforcement agencies.

About the author: Tudor Serban
Tudor Serban profile photo

Tudor started his automotive career in 1996, writing for a magazine while working on his journalism degree. From Pikes Peaks to the Moroccan desert to the Laguna Seca, he's seen and done it all.
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