Helped a Friend Get a Car. Now They Won’t Pay. – Mel

“Dear Steve,

I friend of mine, Friend A, purchased a car for Friend B in Friend A’s name in January of 2011. They agreed verbally that the car would be the “possession” of Friend B (even though it is in Friend A’s name) and that Friend B would pay all the payments for the five year term of the loan and that Friend B would maintain car insurance and that Friend B would pay for the maintenance, repair, and annual state tags for the vehicle. Once the loan was paid for title would transfer to Friend B.

Friend B has gotten behind on payments, made many late payments, gotten tickets which where charged to Friend A, let car insurance lapse and had a fender bender (thus making Friend A liable for damages without car insurance), incurred toll booth charges which are charged to Friend A and does not reimburse Friend A, will not take the time to get a toll tag so that toll road fees are charged to Friend B who drives the car exclusively.

The car is now on the verge of repossession. Friend A received a certified letter this week(last week in March 2013) from the loan company stating that unless the loan plus late fees is brought current by April 7, 2013, the loan will be accelerated. If the loan is brought current, the loan will not be accelerated; however, one more late payment in the future will trigger loan acceleration and repossession without notice.

Friend A would like to take possession of the car and bring the loan current to avoid repossession. The two friends have not being talking to each other since December 2012. About two weeks ago, Friend A sent a Facebook message to Friend B suggesting that Friend B either bring the loan current or return the car to Friend A.

Can Friend A take possession of the car?

Does Friend A need to hire a licensed repo man to do this?

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car keys narrow

Dear Mel,

You are very generous in referring to the second person as a “friend.”

I don’t know what state your friends live in or what the law is in their state. I am not a lawyer and can only speak about what makes logical sense to me.

I’d tell A to go pickup the car. It is a huge liability hanging out there and obviously B is not responsible and does not care about A. Some friend.

If B has a hissy fit about it once A has the car, then they can talk about it.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.


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Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
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