Any person/company who repairs a motor vehicle at the request of the owner holds a lien for their reasonable charges and may retain possession of the vehicle until charges are paid. This is known as an artisan’s lien.
Obtaining Legal Ownership
In order for the repair person/company to apply for an artisan’s lien they must maintain possession of the vehicle. If the vehicle is no longer in their possession, they do not qualify for an artisan’s lien.
When a repairer is owed money for repairs made to a motor vehicle and the bill remains unpaid for three (3) months, and the repairer retains possession of the vehicle, the following procedures should be followed in order to obtain legal ownership of the vehicle by means of an artisan’s lien:
The repairer shall notify the vehicle’s owner by certified mail and return receipt requested of his/her intent to sell the vehicle at public auction if the bill is not paid.
The repairer shall make a written request for a title search to the Department of Motor Vehicles if the vehicle is less than fifteen (15) years old to determine whether there is a lien on the vehicle. The repairer shall notify the lien-holder of the artisan’s lien by certified mail, return receipt requested. The repairer must then obtain a lien release letter from that lien holder.
The repairer may sell the vehicle at public auction in the town where such lien accrues. Notice of the time, place and purpose of the sale shall be posted in two or more public places in such town at least 10 days prior to the sale.
At least 10 days prior to the sale, a notice in writing of the time, place, and amount due shall be given to the owner, either personally or by mail, or by leaving at his residence if a resident of this state. Otherwise such notice shall be given by publication in a newspaper published in the town or county where the lien accrues, if there is one, and if not, in a newspaper published in an adjoining county.
The vehicle may then be sold at public auction. The repairer should furnish the buyer with a Bill of Sale, an odometer statement, and a notarized affidavit that he has complied with the provisions of the above statute along with copies of all notices sent to the owner and any newspaper notices. The buyer needs to submit these documents to the Department of Motor Vehicles with their vehicle registration application.
Registering a Vehicle Under an Artisan’s Lien
- A signed AND notarized affidavit from the individual/company which did the repairs, stating the following:
- Year, make and VIN of the vehicle that the labor was provided for.
- Name and address of vehicle’s owner who authorized the repairs and/or parts.
- Charges incurred for the repairs.
- Date repairs were completed.
- Statement that charges for the repairs have remained unpaid for three months or more since the repairs were completed and there has been no attempt to satisfy the debt made by the owner.
- Statement as to the date and location where official notification of the public auction for sale of this vehicle was posted.
- Statement that the motor vehicle was sold at public auction. The date of sale, purchaser’s name and the sale price must be provided.
Note: The affidavit must be signed by the party which did the repairs or authorized representative of the company.
- A copy of the official notice posted and sent to the previous owner stating the date, location and time of the vehicle auction. The notice shall include the year, make and VIN of the vehicle and reason for the sale.
- A bill of sale from the individual/company which did the repairs to the purchaser at the auction. The bill of sale must include:
- Year, make and VIN of the vehicle
- The name of the purchaser, with reference made that the sale was made by bid at the stated auction.
- Purchase price of the vehicle
- Signature of the seller
- Bills of sale maintaining the chain of ownership from the purchaser at the auction on through to the party now registering the vehicle.
- A properly completed registration, tax and title application.
- Approval must be given by a DMV Operations Chief on any vehicle registered/titled under an artisan’s lien.
Chapter 51: Miscellaneous Liens :: Subchapter 2: Artisan's Liens