Note: Private individuals are not allowed to do this process.
What is an Abandoned/Immobile or Unattended Vehicle?
Abandoned, means (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-103(1)), a motor vehicle that:
- Is over four years old and is left unattended on public property for more than ten days;
- Is in obvious state of disrepair and is left unattended on public property for more than three days;
- Has remained illegally on public property for a period of more than 48 hours;
- Has remained on private property without consent of the owner or person in control of the property for more than 48 hours; or
- Has been stored, parked or left in a garage, trailer park, or any type of storage or parking lot for more than 30 consecutive days.
Immobile, means (Tenn. Code Ann. 55-16-103(3)):
- Any motor vehicle, trailer, semi-trailer, or combination or part of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semi-trailer that is immobilized and incapable of moving under its own power due to an accident, mechanical breakdown, weather conditions or other emergency situation.
Unattended vehicle, means (Tenn. Code Ann. 56-16-103(7)):
- Any motor vehicle, trailer, sem-itrailer, or combination or part of a motor vehicle, trailer, or semi-trailer that is on public or private property, unattended by the owner or authorized driver, and interferes with or impedes the orderly flow of traffic, or a motor vehicle that is unattended by reason of the arrest of the driver of such motor vehicle.
Procedures for Abandoned/Immobile or Unattended Vehicles:
- The requester must submit a Request For Verification Ownership On Vehicles Found Abandoned/Immobile Or Unattended form completed in its entirety within three business days after taking the vehicle into custody, including signature of the authorized representative making the request. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-105)
- This form may be mailed to the Department of Revenue, Vehicle Services Section, 44 Vantage Way, Suite 160, Nashville, TN 37243, with the appropriate fee of $1 per request. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-2-106)
- Furnish written authorization for the towing of each vehicle from Law Enforcement with appropriate jurisdiction, or from the owner of the vehicle, (or the authorized agent of the owner) of the private property from which the vehicle is to be towed. (Tenn. Code Ann. 55-16-105)
- Once the request is submitted, the Department of Revenue will process this form and return it to the requestor with the owner and/or lienholder information if available. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-105)
- The requester must send a notice to the vehicle owner within three business days after receiving verification of ownership, as well as any lienholders listed, and/or any other person who claims interest in this vehicle. If an out-of-state record exists, it will be provided. Then, an inquiry must be sent to that state for owner and/or lienholder information. Notices must be sent within 15 days of receiving possession of such vehicle. The notices must be sent by registered mail, return receipt requested or, if delivered in person, a notarized affidavit naming the person who delivered and specified time, place and manner of giving notice. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-105)
- The notice must include the complete description of the vehicle, an itemized statement of charges, and have a specified due date for payment to be received that is not less than ten days from the delivery of the notice. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-105)
- The requester may not charge more than 60 days for storage without the consent of the owner's and/or lienholders. Notification must be sent by registered mail, return receipt requested, of the intent to charge a storage fee for a period to exceed 60 days. (Tenn. Code Ann. Sections 55-23-103, 55-23-104)
- A garagekeeper or towing firm that does not verify ownership of a motor vehicle within three business days after taking possession of a motor vehicle or that does not notify the owner by mail that they possess the motor vehicle within six days after taking possession shall not be entitled to receive more than six days of storage-related expenses. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-105)
- A garagekeeper or towing firm that is found by a court of competent jurisdiction to have failed upon presentment of payment for towing and storage expenses to release a motor vehicle shall be subject to civil liability to a vehicle owner, secured creditor, lessor or lienholder who prevails in an action brought under this section for reasonable costs and attorney's fees incurred by the person instituting the action. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-105)
- In the event there is no response to the notices by registered mail and/or the amount owed is not paid by the specified time in the notice, the vehicle shall be advertised for sale at auction, at a specified time and place. The advertisement should be placed once in a newspaper of general circulation in the area where the vehicle was abandoned, immobile, or unattended. The sale shall not be held less than 15 days from the time of first publication. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-105)
- If there is no newspaper published in the place where the sale is to be held, the advertisement shall be posted at least ten days before the sale in not less than six conspicuous places in public areas in the area where the vehicle is to be sold. (Tenn Code Ann. Section 66-14-104)
- If the vehicle has been stored, parked or left in a garage, trailer park, or any type of storage lot for more than 30 consecutive days the requester must submit in writing the make and vehicle identification number of such motor vehicle to the Department of Revenue on Part B of the Request For Verification Of Ownership On Vehicles Found Abandoned/Immobile Or Unattended form. Only Part B may be faxed to the Department of Revenue at (615) 253-4259. This must be received by the Department of Revenue before the vehicle is sold at auction. (Tenn. Code Ann. Section 55-16-106(a))
- After the auction of the vehicle, the purchaser will make application through the county clerk to title and register the vehicle. The following documents are required: (Tenn. Code Ann. Sections 55-3-101, 55-4-101)
Special Note: If any estimate or repair has been made, you must apply for a Garagekeeper's Lien. This would not fall under the Abandoned Vehicle Law.
References: Tenn. Code Ann Sections 55-2-106, 55-3-101, 55-4-101, 55-16-101-55-16-106, 55-23-103, 55-23-104 and 66-14-102, 66-19-103