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"About Boats, Trailers, Vehicles with "No Titles" (Washington State)"

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  • "About Boats, Trailers, Vehicles with "No Titles" (Washington State)"

    Someone on CL posted this message in the boats for sale section, and I thought it was worthy enough to pass along to club members and guest here on our site.
    Though a lot of us have dealt with freebies or boats that cost less $1K, it can still be a pain to straighten out a title mess with the state. I've taken chances before and it's worked out, but the process always keeps my cage rattled.

    From CL:
    "Here's the lowdown you NEED TO KNOW. Feel free to verify this information with the Washington State Department of Licensing (DOL) or better yet your local licensing agent.

    If someone is advertising for sale a boat, trailer, car, truck, RV, motorcycle, ATV, etc. and states that they "don't have the title", be very, very, very wary because more than likely you are going to get scammed. More than the obvious problems like its stolen and/or never belonged to them to begin with, or there's still a huge mortgage/loan lien against it, there's another equally scary problem, even if it does belong to them, and EVEN IF THEY HAVE A FREE AND CLEAR TITLE.

    The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and other agencies have a new trick - they file a lien for things like unpaid child support against all titles held by an individual (deadbeat dad or deadbeat mother). When they file that lien, it attaches to the title of the boat or vehicle, but DOL does not reissue a new title showing DSHS as a new lien holder, instead, they just wait.

    Here's a typical scenario;

    Someone places and ad on Craigslist for a boat or vehicle that has a market value (even in today's market) of $15,000 and they are only asking $5,000 cash and they have the title to the boat, car, trailer, etc.. You go out, look at them, test drive it, etc. and are totally happy with the boat, motor and trailer. The seller presents you free and clear titles to both the boat and trailer, he or she signs them off, you give him $5,000 cash. The seller was only available to show his/her boat on Saturday afternoon or Sunday anytime (hey, maybe he is lucky enough to have a really good job).

    On Tuesday, during your lunch hour, you go over to DOL or a licensing agent to transfer the titles into your name.

    The licensing agent informs you that the total to complete the transfer will be $74,316.98 (which is the amount they owe in back child support).

    You call the guy who sold you the boat, the number is disconnected or it went to a throw away cell phone (which has now been thrown way far away).

    You drive over to his house, you find out he has left town (probably the night he got the cash from you).

    You've been screwed.

    The seller of course did not disclose that he/she had in fact received the LETTER from DSHS stating that they have liened everything he/she owns.

    The deadbeat is gone.

    You have a boat, motor and trailer in your yard that you can not put in your name, can not buy new tabs for, and can not use until you pay not only all the licensing fees and taxes, but also his/her 9 years of back child support.

    There is a safe way around this - after you've looked at the boat or car or trailer and have decided you do in fact want it - meet the seller at the licensing agency and do the transaction right in front of them. Of course there won't be any "fudging" on the sale price and and hence the sales/use taxes but at least you'll know it's really going to be yours.

    Pay attention, it's dangerous out there.....

    Even if you buy a boat, trailer, vehicle without a title and there are no big liens on it, be prepared to wait up to three years to get a real clear title to it (it can be done, but it's not at easy as you think). Also be prepared to explain and prove to the cops (while you are trying to arrange for your bail from jail) and the prosecutors if it turns out to be stolen. Keep in mind that all of the criminals use the same explanations that you'll be trying to use - like I bought it from a guy off of Craigslist....

    Don't worry - I'll repost this from time to time - the scammers and scumbags keep flagging it off - gee I wonder why?

    This is how it works in Washington State - I would not be surprised to find out that many other states now do it the same way - it's up to you to check it out - before you lay down your hard earned cash.

    Feel free to copy this info and post it elsewhere - it doesn't hurt for everyone to know about this."

  • #2
    Wow....Even With a title it sounds like you could be in trouble.

    I am sure this has changed as most of the states are money hungry and come up with new things for revenue all the time.
    Oregon has this evasive species permit you have to purchase. Its only something like 10 bucks.
    If you don't have one, you get a ticket (revenue for the state). The thing is, No one, No place will check your boat for evasive species.

    The title thing when like this.
    You find a boat on your property or someones property and you get to tow it away, Free, no title, no nothing.
    IF, you have a Hull number or Any ID on the boat, you call Salem. They send you a document and the last known Registered address of the owner.
    You send that registered letter to the last known owners address.
    If the letter is accepted, they have 30 days to contact Salem.
    If the letter is Refused, you take that refused letter, put it into a bigger envelope, send the Salem Marine board $90 dollars (I am sure that went up too) and they call for a inspection. This can be done by Any marine enforcement officer at no charge.
    Salem mails you a new title to the boat and you are now the proud owner of that boat.

    I found a 58 Skagit that was next to a garage sale. I asked about the boat, was told 600 bucks, it runs.
    I gave him $400 bucks and the other $200 when he produced the title, which he could not.
    So I went though the process, registered letter was returned, got the inspection and got the title.
    Found out later that the real owner didn't care about the boat, lost the title anyway but was doing 5 years in the penitentiary.
    I lucked out.
    If I would have taken All ID off that boat I found out all they did was a inspection and you got the title sent in the mail for the title fee.

    I might check with the State of Oregon's Marine division just to see what has changed and report that.
    Helmar Joe Johanesen
    1959 Skagit 20ft Offshore, 1959 Skagit 16ft Skimaster,
    1961 17ft Dorsett Catalina.1958 Uniflite 17 ft
    Outboards: 2.5 Bearcats, 3 50hp White shadow Mercs
    2 40hp Johnsons, several smaller Old kickers for a total of 12

    Our Sister club

    Oh, and Where is Robin Hood when you need him??