I want to buy a car from a guy but it’s actually in one of his relative’s name. The relative has moved off-island and is not quite sure when he’s coming back. The car has been off the road for a while. Is there any way that ownership can be transferred?
Auntie’s answer: I realise that there have been a few columns about issues relating to the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing (DVDL) over the past week or so. While I do get questions about all sorts of topics, the staff at the DVDL are particularly efficient and responsive to queries made to them. And once again, the department has quickly answered another question, therefore here I am writing yet one more column concerning cars.
Before I get into the specifics of the question, the department had this to say: “It is important for anyone who is buying a vehicle to ensure that the person they are dealing with is in fact the owner of the vehicle, or someone who is authorised to represent the owner.”
That might seem obvious to most people, but I suspect there are some potential buyers who would benefit from that advice.
Anyway, in the circumstances you describe, the seller is acting as an intermediary for the sale, which prompted the DVDL official to assume that the current owner did not sign Section C of the logbook. If it has been signed, “It is important to note that the current owner’s signature should have been witnessed by a notary public, a justice of the peace, or a DVDL staff member. If this section wasn’t completed (signed by the current owner), it will be necessary for the current owner to be contacted.”
With the expectation that the brother can contact the owner, he needs to tell him to complete a Transfer of Ownership form found on the DVDL website. The owner should fill in the details of himself and the buyer.
Then the owner needs to sign the form in the presence of a notary. The DVDL further requires a copy of the current owner’s drivers licence, signed and witnessed by the same notary.
The next step is for the owner to scan and email these documents to his brother, who can complete the transaction.
The DVDL also offered this general advice: “Avoid unnecessary stress by ensuring that you are either dealing with the current owner of a vehicle that you want to purchase, or that the individual you are dealing with is authorised by the registered owner.
“Always ask to see the logbook. There is some useful information on there. Not only will you find the registered owner’s name, but also if there is a registered bank lien against the vehicle. If there is a registered lien, this will have to be removed by the bank before a transfer can occur.”
One other point is about Section C of the logbook, which is specifically for the transfer of a vehicle. The validity of the current owner’s signature depends on it being witnessed by a notary or a justice of the peace, the official said, adding, “If the signature of the current owner is there, and it hasn’t been witnessed, a transfer will not be allowed.”