How do I file a mechanics lien and start the process of obtaining a vehicle title?

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How do I file a mechanics lien and start the process of obtaining a vehicle title?

A customer contractually agreed to pay for a service to paint his vehicle. When the vehicle was finished he did not have the money and said he was not going to pay for it. He said that the lien holder was coming to pick the vehicle up but upon further investigation we found out there is no lien holder. What can we do to obtain the title?

Asked on November 3, 2010 under Business Law, South Carolina

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You are jumping the gun here and you may be attempting to swim in waters that you do not belong.  First, a mechanics lien is generally permitted to those that do some sort of work - based upon a contract which can be either written or verbal - on realproperty, not on personal property such as the car.  Unless North Carolina allows you to file against personal property, that is not the procedure.  You need to sue the customer for payment for the work performed pursuant to your contract. If you fit in to the small claims amount in your state then you could use that avenue.  Once you obtain a judgement you can use the methods of collection that the law allows in your state: levy against property, restrain a bank account, garnish salary - whatever.  Generally speaking you can not seek to collect more than you are owed.  So if the car is worth more than the paint job selling it and giving the extra money back to the debtor is going to be the avenue you will have to go.  Good luck.


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