Skip Main Navigation





Abandoned Motor Vehicles

Definition

Property over which the owner has given up dominion and control with no intention of recovering it. The property can be anything with tires and serial number, i.e., car, truck, motorcycle, and trailers. A boat is not considered an abandoned vehicle and you must follow the procedures set up by the Department of Natural Resources.

A motor vehicle is abandoned if:

  1. It has been left by the owner or some person acting for the owner with an automobile dealer, repairman, or wrecker service for repairs or for some other reason and has not been picked up by such owner or person within:
    • days after the time agreed upon
    • thirty (30) days after the vehicle is turned over to such dealer, repairman, or wrecker service, if no time is agreed upon; or
    • thirty (30) days after the completion of necessary repairs.

  2. It is left unattended on a public street, road, highway, or other public property for a period of at least five (5) days and when it reasonably appears to a law enforcement officer that the individual who left such motor vehicle unattended does not intend to return to such motor vehicle3.
  3. If has been lawfully towed onto the property of another at the request of a law enforcement officer and left there for period of not less than thirty (30) days without anyone having made claim to the vehicle
  4. It has been lawfully towed onto the property of another at the request of a property owner on whose property the vehicle was abandoned and left there for a period of not less than thirty (30) days without the owner(s) having made claim to the vehicle;
  5. It has been left unattended on private property for a period of not less than thirty (30) days without anyone making a claim to it.

Jurisdiction

Affidavits seeking the foreclosure of a lien on an abandoned motor vehicle with a value up to $15,000 may be filed in the Magistrate Court by a tow company, repair company or an individual who is storing a vehicle that has not been claimed by the owner or lienholder.

Filing Procedures

For a person or business storing the vehicle, sign and notarize the affidavit (short form of affidavit also available) and submit copies of all required documents, including MV-603 form, a T-22B form, Statement of Charges form, certified letters and/or return receipts. If the owner was unknown and the vehicle had to be advertised, submit proof of advertisement. The filing fee is $10. All AMV petitions are reviewed by a Judge.

Court Order

If the judge finds that you have complied with the requirements of the law, an order will be issued allowing you to sell the vehicle at a public auction to satisfy the lien. The abandoned vehicle cannot be retained by the person applying for the abandoned vehicle. You must sell the abandoned vehicle at a public auction.

Disposition of Proceeds

After sale of the vehicle, the law requires that the plaintiff file a Disposition of the proceeds and a copy of the bill of sale. These forms should be completed and mailed or delivered to the clerk of Magistrate Court within 30 days of the sale of the vehicle. If the vehicle is sold for more than the lien, the difference must be remitted to the court.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • How do I get my money back from removing or storing a vehicle?

    40-11-4. Creation of lien; courts authorized to foreclose lien

    (A) Any person who removes or stores any motor vehicle which is or becomes an abandoned motor vehicle shall have a lien on such vehicle for the reasonable fees connected with such removal or storage plus the cost of any advertisement. Prior to acquiring such lien, the person must have complied with the requirements of Code Section 40-11-2.

    (B) The lien acquired under subsection (a) of this Code section may be foreclosed in any court which is competent to hear civil cases, including, but not limited to, magistrate courts. Liens shall be foreclosed in magistrate courts only when the amount of the lien does not exceed the jurisdictional limits established by law for such courts.

  • How do I foreclose a lien on an abandoned vehicle?

    40-11-5. Lien foreclosure procedure

    All liens acquired under Code Section 40-11-4 shall be foreclosed as follows:

    (1) Any proceeding to foreclose a lien on an abandoned motor vehicle must be instituted within one year from the time the lien is recorded or is asserted by retention;

    (2) The person desiring to foreclose a lien on an abandoned motor vehicle shall, by certified or registered mail, make a demand upon the owner for the payment of the reasonable fees for removal and storage plus the costs of any advertisement. Such written demand shall include an itemized statement of all charges. No such written demand shall be required if the identity of the owner cannot be ascertained and the notice requirements of subsection (g) of Code Section 40-11-2 have been complied with;

    (3) (A) If, within ten days of delivery to the appropriate address of the written demand required by paragraph (2) of this Code section, the owner of the abandoned motor vehicle fails to respond to such demand or refuses to pay, or if the owner of the abandoned motor vehicle cannot be ascertained, the person removing or storing the abandoned motor vehicle may foreclose such lien. The person asserting such lien may move to foreclose by making an affidavit to a court of competent jurisdiction showing all facts necessary to constitute such lien and the amount claimed to be due. Such affidavit shall aver that the notice requirements of Code Section 40-11-2 have been complied with, and such affidavit shall also aver that a demand for payment has been made and refused or that the identity of the owner cannot be ascertained. The person foreclosing shall verify the statement by oath or affirmation and shall affix his signature thereto.

    (B) Regardless of the court in which the affidavit required by this paragraph is filed, the fee for filing such affidavit shall be $5.00 per motor vehicle upon which a lien is asserted;

    (4) (A) Upon such affidavit's being filed, the lien claimant shall give the clerk or judge of the court the address (if known) of the owner, lessor, lessee, security interest holders, and lienholders of the abandoned vehicle. The clerk or judge of the court shall serve notice upon such owner, lessor, lessee, security interest holders, and lienholders of the abandoned motor vehicle of a right to a hearing to determine if reasonable cause exists to believe that a valid debt exists; that such hearing must be petitioned for within ten days after receipt of such notice; and that, if no petition for such hearing is filed within the time allowed, the lien will conclusively be deemed a valid one and foreclosure thereof allowed.

    (B) Any notice required by this paragraph shall be by certified mail or, if the owner, lessor, lessee, security interest holder, or lienholder is unknown, by posting such notice at the county courthouse in such place where other public notices are posted;

    (5) If a petition for a probable cause hearing is filed within the time allowed, the court shall set such a hearing within ten days of filing of the petition. If, at the hearing, the court determines that reasonable cause exists to believe that a valid debt exists, then the person asserting the lien shall retain possession of the motor vehicle or the court shall obtain possession of the motor vehicle, as ordered by the court. The owner-debtor may obtain possession of the motor vehicle by giving bond and security in the amount determined to be probably due and costs of the action;

    (6) Within five days of the probable cause hearing, a party defendant must petition the court for a full hearing on the validity of the debt if a further determination of the validity of the debt is desired. If no such petition is filed, the lien for the amount determined reasonably due shall conclusively be deemed a valid one and foreclosure thereof allowed. If such a petition is filed, the court shall set a full hearing thereon within 15 days of the filing of the petition. Upon the filing of such petition by a party defendant, neither the prosecuting lienholder nor the court may sell the motor vehicle, although possession of the motor vehicle may be retained;

    (7) If, after a full hearing, the court finds that a valid debt exists, then the court shall authorize foreclosure upon and sale of the motor vehicle subject to the lien to satisfy the debt if such debt is not otherwise immediately paid;

    (8) If the court finds the actions of the person asserting the lien in retaining possession of the motor vehicle were not taken in good faith, then the court, in its discretion, may award damages to the owner, any party which has been deprived of the rightful use of the vehicle, or the lessee due to the deprivation of the use of the motor vehicle;

    (9) If no petition for a hearing is filed, or if, after a full hearing, the court determines that a valid debt exists, the court shall issue an order authorizing the sale of such motor vehicle. However, the holder of a security interest in or a lien on the vehicle, other than the holder of a lien created by Code Section 40-11-4, shall have the right, in the order of priority of such security interest or lien, to pay the debt and court costs. If the holder of a security interest or lien does so pay the debt and court costs, he shall have the right to possession of the vehicle, and his security interest in or lien on such vehicle shall be increased by the amount so paid. A court order shall be issued to this effect, and in this instance there shall not be a sale of the vehicle.

  • What happens after I sell the vehicle?

    40-11-6. Sale of vehicle pursuant to foreclosure

    (A) Upon order of the court, the person holding the lien on the abandoned motor vehicle shall be authorized to sell such motor vehicle at public sale, as defined by Code Section 11-1-201.

    (B) After satisfaction of the lien, the person selling such motor vehicle shall turn the remaining proceeds of such sale, if any, over to the clerk of the court.

  • How does the purchaser at a foreclosure sale obtain title?

    40-11-7. How purchaser at foreclosure sale may obtain certificate of title

    The purchaser at a sale as authorized in this article shall receive a certified copy of the court order authorizing such sale. Any such purchaser may obtain a certificate of title to such motor vehicle by filing the required application, paying the required fees, and filing a certified copy of the order of the court with the Department of Revenue. The Department of Revenue shall then issue a certificate of title, which shall be free and clear of all liens and encumbrances.

  • What happens to the proceeds of the foreclosure sale?

    40-11-8. Disposition of proceeds of foreclosure sale

    The clerk of the court shall retain the remaining balance of the proceeds of a sale under Code Section 40-11-6, after satisfaction of liens, security interests, and debts, for a period of 12 months; and, if no claim has been filed against such proceeds by the owner of the abandoned motor vehicle or any interested party, then he shall pay such remaining balance as follows:

    (1) If the abandoned motor vehiclecame into the possession of the person creating the lien other than at the request of a peace officer, the proceeds of the sale shall be divided equally and paid into the general fund of the county in which the sale was made and into the general fund of the municipality, if any, in which the sale was made;

    (2) If the abandoned motor vehicle came into the possession of the person creating the lien at the request of a police officer of a municipality, the proceeds of the sale shall be paid into the general fund of the municipality;

    (3) If the abandoned motor vehicle came into the possession of the person creating the lien at the request of a county sheriff, deputy sheriff, or county police officer, the proceeds of the sale shall be paid into the general fund of the county in which the sale was made;

    (4) If the abandoned motor vehicle came into the possession of the person creating the lien at the request of a member of the Georgia State Patrol or other employee of the State of Georgia, the proceeds of the sale shall be paid into the general fund of the county in which the sale was made.