Abandoned Vehicle Laws in Ohio

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Cars and trucks cost so much these days that most people do not consider abandoning a vehicle. However, sometimes an owner leaves a car on private property so long that it is considered abandoned. It is also possible that a vehicle is taken in for repairs or put into storage by the owner and never retrieved. When these things occur, most states have laws regulating the situation. Ohio has enacted laws dealing with both scenarios.

Abandoned Vehicle Titles in Ohio

Ohio has very specific laws about vehicles abandoned at different types of vehicle service and transport companies. Someone brings a car in for service or repair, then never shows up to claim it. Or an Ohio tow firm transports a car but the owner never appears to bail it out. Another example is a storage yard for RV or other vehicles. A car owner stores a vehicle there but stops paying storage fees and disappears from the last known address.

In these situations, most states give the businesses at which a vehicle is abandoned the right to go to court to get title, but this procedure can be costly and lengthy. In Ohio, the law (Ohio Revised Code § 4505.101) provides a streamlined procedure for these types of businesses to claim title to the abandoned cars or vehicles worth less than $3,500. The value is calculated by subtracting the amount of the cost of repairs, towing or storage, and any other required repairs are deducted from its wholesale value.

Procedure to Claim a Vehicle

The business owner must wait the required number of days, from five to 15, depending on the type of business. Once the vehicle has been unclaimed for this long after a repair is completed, or storage or towing fees are unpaid, the business owner must follow the steps set out in the statute to obtain title.

This includes completing a title search of the vehicle, mailing certified notices to the owner and any lien holder, and completing an Unclaimed Vehicle Affidavit (Ohio BMV Abandoned Vehicle Affidavit) for the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The business owner must also pay any difference in value between the vehicle's wholesale value and the costs (of agreed upon repairs) that the business is owed. Following this procedure exactly will provide the owner clear title to the vehicle.

Abandoned Vehicles on Private Property in Ohio

Ohio law also gives a procedure to be followed for an abandoned vehicle on private property in Ohio. This could be a car left in an individual's driveway or in the parking lot of a store, as long as the vehicle is left there without permission. It can also be a repair garage.

Under Ohio Revised Code § 4513.63, the owner of the private property can call the sheriff of the county or chief of police of a municipality after the vehicle has been on the property for at least four hours. He can ask that it be towed. The vehicle is towed to a storage facility and kept there until the owner comes to retrieve it. In order to do so, he must pay all of the fees required by the county or municipality and provide proof of ownership.

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