Thursday, July 21, 2016

Selling Vehicles at a Self Storage Auction in Florida




Selling Vehicles at a Self Storage Lien Sale #1 - Florida

Many state self storage associations have successfully changed their self storage statutes to allow stored vehicles to be towed of the property in the event of default. Florida is not one of those states. Operators in Florida must follow through with a lien sale.

If you are a Florida owner or operator that rents vehicle spaces or has drive-up units that could be used to store a vehicle absolutely MUST have provisions in their rental agreement specifically addressing vehicle storage. If your rental agreement does not, please have it reviewed and updated by an attorney specializing in self storage.

Once you are ready to start renting to people storing vehicles, please ensure they own the vehicle they are storing. If they offer to return later to bring the proof of ownership, do not rent the unit until later. You have a much greater chance of running into stumbling blocks come auction time if the vehicle does not belong to the tenant. You will also need to contact any additional owners in the event of a lien sale and they might very well show up to reclaim their vehicle and you will have to give it to them.

If you need to have an auction with a vehicle in FL, the first thing you will need to do is a VIN search on the vehicle. This search needs to provide you with the names and addresses of any owners and/or lien holders. Several of the auctioneers and auction companies are able to do the VIN search for you or you will need to go directly to the FL DMV with form HSMV 90510 and a payment of $1.00 and have the search conducted directly.

After you obtain the VIN search, you can prepare your Notice of Sale letters. These "lien letters" need to be sent via CERTIFIED MAIL WITH RETURN RECEIPT. While the self storage statutes have changed the mailing requirements for lien letters, the DMV has not. You will need to send a letter to your tenant, any different known owners, AND any known lien holders. Per Florida statute, each of your letters needs to have a space to include a description of the property being sold. In this section, you need to include the year, make model, and VIN number of the vehicle. If the vehicle is in a unit with other items, you will need to list those items as well. A vehicle is not considered "household goods."

When you are ready to prepare your advertisement, you will need to include your tenant, any other known owners, and any lien holders. Basically, you will need to advertise each person you sent a letter to. You will also need to include the same description you put in your letter. This will be the year, make, model, and VIN of the vehicle.

Unfortunately, you have just completed the easy part and it only gets more difficult from here. You will need to familiarize yourself with the FL DMV TL-28. This is the set of rules the FL DMV has for obtaining a title for a vehicle bought at a self storage auction. It is very difficult to find this document in a regular Google search, so I have linked it here and will also place a link on my blog. The most important part of the TL-28 is the list of documents you will need to give to the auction buyer. You will need to provide the buyer with the following documents.


  • A copy of the Notice of Sale letter
  • A copy of the VIN search
  • If the vehicle was previously title in a different state, you will need to contact that state as well to find out if there are any lien holders of record. You will need to provide the auction buyer with that search, if applicable. 
  • Proof the notice was delivered via certified mail with return receipt
  • Any original green cards that were returned (yes, original)
  • Any returned, unopened letters (yes, the actual letter)
  • A copy of the advertisement, showing the dates it was posted
  • FL Form HSMV 82050. This is the Notice of Sale for required by the DMV. You will fill out sections 1 & 3. By signing this form, you are simply stating that the vehicle was in fact sold at auction at your facility. 

I always recommend having all of these documents ready to hand over to the buyer on the day of the auction. If you do not, they will likely call you several times to get everything they need. I also think it is a good idea to give the buyer a copy of the TL-28. In the event they have any issues at the DMV, they can produce the TL-28 to the agent they are working with. If they are able to easily resolve any issues at the DMV, they will not come back to you looking for a resolution.

There are times when the vehicle is old, dilapidated and has not been registered in many, many years. In this instance, it will be difficult to find vehicle information. Likely, the auction buyer would be buying it for scrap metal rather than a titled vehicle to drive. In this instance, you can sell the vehicle for “parts & salvage.” This is only an acceptable remedy when you have exhausted all efforts to obtain ownership records. If you choose to sell a vehicle for parts, in the description of goods in your letter and your ad, you will write the make and model, followed by “SOLD FOR PARTS AND SALVAGE.” This will alert any potential buyers that you will not be providing paperwork for them to obtain a title. If anyone should ask if you will have the paperwork for a title, the answer is “no.”
This remedy CANNOT be used simply to get around the complicated process described above. If you sell a working vehicle, that you can obtain title information on for parts and salvage, you have not had a commercially reasonable sale and you will have violated the FL lien laws for self storage. Essentially, you will have had a wrongful sale.

In the past, lobbyists for the Florida Self Storage Association have been working on getting the lien law amended to allow operators to tow vehicles in the event of default. This would be a much easier way to remove a default vehicle from the property. Hopefully, we will see this change in the legislation sooner rather than later.

About the Author - Cheli Rosa - Director of Marketing, Auctioneer, Company Administrator, Social Media Manager, Mom, Kite Flyer, Pinterest Addict and Amateur Scrapbooker.

2 comments:

  1. dear,
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