Re: How to register a trailer with only a bill of sale

"Chuck Gould" <chuckgould.chuck@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in message

neilkidger@xxxxxxxxx wrote:
I have just bought a trailer on Ebay. It came with a bill of sale.
When I went to the DMV they told me I needed a title or they could not

Any ideas on how to beat the system?


You were pretty foolish, frankly, to purchase a trailer from somebody
who could provide absolutely no proof that he even owned it in the
first place. You situation may not be resolveable. If you will send me
just $50,000, cash of course, I'll furnish you with a bill of sale for
the house immediately next door to yours. Pretty good deal- you'll have
a lot that's suddenly twice as big and a rental to boot.

(One reason peeole sell things with no title and no registration is
that the lien isn't satisfied).

Sometimes people sell cars, trucks, trailers, etc without a title
and/or registration simply because they have lost the paperwork. That's
OK, if you know that's truly the situation, and nearly all states deal
with that the same way.

You probably don't have any real recourse through e-bay if the guy
disclosed in his offering that he didn't have a title or registration
for the trailer and that he was selling with a bill of sale only.

One challenge with calling the trailer "home-made" is that in many
states (maybe not all) the state is going to ask you to present your
trailer for inspection before they will license it. (When you
"Home-made" that thing, did you rig it with the proper lights? Weld it
properly? etc?) Unless Mr. Magoo is the inspector, somebody will see
that your trailer is factory built, run the VIN number, (possibly) come
up with a registered owner in another state, and maybe give you a free
ride in a police cruiser down to where some nice man will ask you some
tough questions about why you were trying to misrepresent Joe Jones'
trailer as something you built yourself.

If your situation can be resolved honestly, here's how to work within
the system so that when *you* get ready to sell the trailer you're not
stuck. Or, if the trailer turns out to be stolen, you can deal with it
now rather than watch your boat get hauled in as "evidence"
the day they arrest you and impound the trailer.

There are 50 different license and titling laws in the US, one for
every state. This is general advice that will work in most states, but
may not work where you live.

1. Fist figure out what state the trailer was last licensed in. First
clue, does it have license plates? That's a start. In some states the
plates follow the person, not the vehicle, so the seller may have
removed the plates. If there are no plates, contact the seller and ask
if he took plates off the trailer before you picked it up.

2. If there are no plates, run the VIN through the databases in your
own and the immediately surrounding states. Odds are that the trailer
didn't travel too far from where it was last legitimately registered.
Of course try the seller's state first if he lives in a state other
than the state where you live.

3. If you run into a deadend with the surrounding states, call the
company that built the trailer and ask what dealer it was sold to.
Hopefully the trailer mfgr and the dealer are still in business. The
mfgr will be able to tell from the VIN what year the trailer was built,
so the mfgr and the dealer won't be looking through 1000's of records
to help you.
If the mfgr is still in business but the dealer has gone OOB, check the
licensing agency of the state where dealer was located....(assuming you
haven't already checked that state)

4. Your goal is to find the last person to whom the trailer was
legitimately registered.
That may not be the guy who sold it to you, but if not it might be the
guy who sold it to him or even one owner previous to that.

5. Once you have tracked down the last known legal owner (the last
person who held a title to the trailer or at least a registration in a
"reg-only" state), you need to have that person fill out a form called
(in most states) "Affadavit of Lost Title". While this can often be
used across state lines, your own state might not honor this affadavit
from another state. In that case you use the affadavit to first get a
title in the last legal owner's state or the last known legal owner
needs to have a new title/reg issued in his state and then transfer the
title/reg to you.

What about all the people who may have "owned" the trailer since the
last guy who was holding the title/reg? Forget 'em. In the eyes of the
law, they don't exist. (Something the last holder of the title/reg
would discover, to his sorrow, if that trailer were ever involved in
some sort of accident that inspired a victim to sue for damages).

Good luck. Don't get caught pulling that "mystery" trailer around
without papers.

I tend to agree with Chuck, you need to get a title search completed and
follow his recommended line of reasoning.