Abandoned Vehicles

AUTHORITY:

Tenn. Code Ann. § 55-2-106, 55-3-101, 55-4-101, 55-16-103 to 112, 55-23-
103 and 104, 66-14-101 to 106 and 66-19-103

WHAT THE COUNTY CLERK SHOULD DO:

  • If a county clerk or county clerk staff is asked a question related to abandoned vehicles left unattended on public or private property, they can:
      • Refer them to the Vehicle Services Customer Call Center at 615-741-3101, OR
      • Refer them to the Motor Vehicle Data Services portal (MVDS)
  • Tow form signed by person(s) or Law Enforcement Officer that requested the tow
  • An application to title and register these vehicles must be accompanied by the following:
    • Affidavit of Sales Under Special Conditions
    • Verification of Ownership from the Division (MVDS printout, AV form or TIES report)
    • Registered mail receipts from all parties (registered owner(s), all lienholders or the lessor). Please note, green cards and USPS electronic signature forms may be accepted.
    • A copy of the ad placed in the newspaper
    • Itemized statement of storage and towing fees
    • If applicable, Odometer Disclosure Statement

WHAT THE PUBLIC MAY/MAY NOT DO:

  • The public may report vehicles left abandoned, immobile or unattended to law enforcement.
  • Private property owners such as apartment buildings may call a towing firm to have the vehicle removed and sign a tow slip stating they are requesting the vehicle to be removed
  • The public may not:
    • Have the vehicle towed
    • Sell the vehicle
    • Register the vehicle
    • Obtain ownership of the vehicle through the Certification of Ownership or Surety Bond processes

DESCRIPTION:

  • “Abandoned Vehicle” is a vehicle
    • Over 4 years old left unattended on public property for more than 10 days
    • In an obvious state of disrepair left unattended on public property more than 3 days
    • On public or private property illegally parked for more than 48 hours
    • On private property without owner’s consent for more than 48 hours
    • Stored, parked or left in a garage, trailer park or other parking lot more than 30 consecutive days
  • “Immobile Vehicle” is a vehicle that is incapable of moving under its own power due to accident, breakdown, weather or other emergency situation.
  • “Unattended Vehicle” is a vehicle
    • On public or private property unattended by the owner/operator that interferes with or prevents the normal flow of traffic; OR
    • Left unattended due to the arrest of the owner/operator.

WHO CAN SUBMIT AN ABANDONED VEHICLE(Authorized Users):

  • Law Enforcement Agencies
  • Tennessee Towing Companies
  • Title Services
  • Salvage Yard Companies
  • Dealerships

STEPS FOR AUTHORIZED USERS:

  • Authorized Users must verify ownership of these vehicles, within three (3) business days of taking the vehicle into custody. The verification can be obtained in one of two ways:
    • By a law enforcement’s search of current motor vehicle records, provided through the Tennessee Information Enforcement System (TIES), OR
    • Submit the Abandoned Vehicle request online via the MVDS portal.
      • There is no fee for law enforcement submitting this form for processing.
      • Law enforcement must furnish authorization to tow
  • After owner information has been verified, authorized users must within three (3) business days notify by registered mail, return receipt requested, the last known registered owner of the vehicle(s).
  • If there are no responses to the registered mail notice, authorized users must place a notice in a newspaper in the area where the vehicle was left abandoned. The ad can list multiples of such vehicles.
  • If Law enforcement notifies the owner(s) and any lienholder by pre-seizure notice, they are not required to complete the AV form nor to make notification by registered mail.
  •  If the vehicle is still not reclaimed, authorized users may sell the motor vehicle at public auction.
  • The buyer of the vehicle is given a sales receipt which is acceptable to:
    • apply for title and registration with the department, or
    • transfer the vehicle to a demolisher for demolition, wrecking, or dismantling
  • The proceeds may be used to recover costs for expenses of this process (the storage, preservation, towing, registered mailing, newspaper ad, and the auction)
  • The remainder of the proceeds must be held for forty-five (45) days for the owner or entitled lienholder, and then shall be deposited in the fund to cover expenses of this process.

STEPS FOR GARAGE KEEPERS/MECHANICS:

  • Garage keepers/Mechanics are required to follow the same steps as law enforcement or towing firms except they can only verify using the VIR form and there is always a fee for obtaining the information.
  • If any estimate or repair has been made, the requester must apply for a Garage keeper's Lien/Mechanics Lien. This would not fall under the Abandoned Vehicle Law.
  • Licensed, Out-of-State Towing companies must file a Vehicle Information Request (VIR) form in order to obtain the current owner and lienholder information.

PLEASE NOTE: While most companies have made the transition to MVDS some still submit the Abandoned Vehicle form. At this time verification of ownership via the MVDS printout, AV form, or TIES report are all acceptable.

 

FORMS

CERTIFICATION OF SALE UNDER SPECIAL CONDITIONS 

VEHICLE INFORMATION REQUEST FORM 

RELATED ARTICLES & LINKS

GARAGEKEEPERS LIEN

MVDS MOTOR VEHICLE DATA SYSTEM

 

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