A seller of a motor vehicle in Texas has a legal obligation to issue you a title to a car your purchased. If you buy your vehicle from a dealer, the dealer is required to file the title application with the Department of Motor Vehicles on your behalf within 20 days of purchase. The title will then be mailed to you. Failure on behalf of the dealer to transfer the title within 20 days is a violation of the Texas Transportation Code. It may also be deemed a breach of contract and possibly a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA).
If you purchased a vehicle from a private seller, it is your responsibility as the buyer to transfer the title. However, it is the seller’s responsibility to provide you:
- the title certificate signed over to you as the buyer,
- an odometer reading written on the title certificate,
- a signed Form 130-U (Application for Texas Certificate of Title)
Failure by the Seller to provide the documents required to transfer title is a breach of contract. As a buyer from a private seller you have 30 days to transfer title and pay the 6.25% sales tax, after which you will incur a penalty.
Regardless of the type of seller, if you are unable to acquire title to a car you purchased, you can seek a court order to have the purchase voided as fraudulent. If you want to keep the vehicle, you can also seek a court order to either force the Seller to transfer the title, or request an Order from the Court to have the State reissue the Title in your name.
Before filing a lawsuit, it is advisable to have an attorney send the seller a Demand Letter. A Demand Letter will outline your right to have title transferred immediately, the legal action you will take if the Seller fails to issue title, and the monetary damages and attorney’s fees you will seek from the court. A well-drafted Demand Letter is often all that is required to motivate the other party to resolve a dispute.
If you need legal assistance in settling a title transfer issue, contact Andrew Bernick at 512-763-5370 or Andrew@BernickLegal.com.