How to Place a Lien on a Motorcycle

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Your ability to place a lien on a motorcycle depends on state laws. If you are a mechanic, for example, and you repaired someone's motorcycle, but the owner didn't pay for the repair or pick up the motorcycle, you can place a lien on it. After taking the required legal actions, if you possess the motorcycle, you may even be entitled to sell it at auction to recoup your costs.

  • Call your state DMV and find out the procedure for placing a lien on a motorcycle. Each state will have a different procedure.

  • Wait at least 30 days before making your claim.

  • Figure out how much you are owed for storage and repairs. If the vehicle has been abandoned, you may not qualify for a lien. In order to determine if a vehicle is abandoned, contact the local police. In Michigan, for example, if the owner leaves the vehicle on private property without the owner's consent, it can be considered abandoned. Abandoned vehicles are often sold at public auction, but the proceeds will not go to the mechanic.

  • Send a notification letter by registered or certified mail in the proper amount of time for your state to the owner of the motorcycle, the person who left the vehicle -- if not the owner -- any other holders of a lien on the vehicle and the details of the motorcycle being held. This letter usually must be sent between 10 and 30 days before the lien is placed or the vehicle is scheduled for auction.

  • Fill out the form required by the DMV for placing a lien, if your state requires one. A letter that states the make and model of the vehicle may be required, instead. You also need the vehicle's identification number and the amount for which the lien must be placed.

  • Send a copy of the letter to your Department of Motor Vehicles' lien unit. You can get the address from the department website or by calling.

  • Place a notice in the local newspaper about the lien, if required by your state. In the state of Maryland, "newspaper notice must be published at least once per week for two consecutive weeks prior to the auction date, and there must be seven days between the first and second publications," according to the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration website.

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