What to do if a dealer has not provided me with the title, registration or plates to a motor home thatI purchased?

I bought a used motorhome 2 months ago from a used car dealer. The purchase price was $4200 total. This figure included registration, taxes and title transfer. I paid in cash and in full for the vehicle on that date. The dealer, as of this date, has not transferred the title, reistered the vehicle or sent me the plates. I have contacted the dealer on 4 different occassions and each time I am told it will be another week. I wrote the dealer a letter telling them that I was not satisfied with the continuing requests for an additional week. Can I return the vehicle to the dealer and demand a refund? Is there any legal basis for this? If not, can I sue them for breach of contract because of their non-performance?

Asked on September 2, 2011 under General Practice, Texas

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The Texas Transportation Code sets out the requirements for transferring title.  A plain reading makes it appear that a failure of a seller to transfer a title voids the purchase agreement.  However, courts have not interpreted this section too literally-- they tend to put more emphasis on who has possession and if that person paid for the vehicle. The purchaser/possessor is still the legal owner regardless of the title documents.  This does not mean that you are without options though.  The same code sections require a seller to transfer title within 20 days if the vehicle is paid in full at the time of the sale.  If they neglect to provide you with title, you may have remedies, in addition to breach of contract, for violations of the Texas Transportation Code or the Deceptive Trade Practices Act-- and possibly theft by deception under the criminal statutes.  The first two options usually involve hiring an attorney.  Before you pay the attorney to file a suit, you may want to just have him/her send a simple demand letter first.  Often, a letter from an attorney will do the trick without having to go through the full blown expense of a hearing.  Another option is to contact the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and file a complaint.  They have the procedures online for filing a complaint against a dealer for failing to transfer the title.  It's a fairly simple process and free.


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