I acquired an old motorcycle from a friend in the late 80s. The bike has a little value now as a classic bike. I would like to sell the bike. However, I have realized in trying to sell it that I don’t have title. What can I do to acquire title?
You will need to file what is called a quiet title action. For the sake of this article, it is assumed that you have first attempted to contact your friend and track down the title.
A quiet title action is common and starts with the filing of a petition that should include information including the description of the vehicle, how the vehicle was acquired, and the requested relief of absolute ownership of the vehicle.
If the seller is known, a summons should be sent to the seller through certified mail, return receipt requested. The return receipt should later be filed with the court. In your case, you should send a summons and copy of the petition to your friend.
Additionally, any unknown owners can be notified through publication. This usually involves three consecutive publications in a newspaper notifying others of the quiet title action. An affidavit of publication is also filed with the court.
After a requisite period of time has passed and if no party files an answer to the petition, the matter can be finalized. The court will then issue a final order. A certified copy of the final order can then be sent off to the Department of Motor Vehicles to get a new title issued. They also require an accompanying form to be completed.
Keep in mind that it usually costs several hundred dollars just in court costs and publication fees alone to complete a quiet title action. Accordingly, as a practical matter, sometimes it may not be economical to pursue this approach.