Legal Question in Consumer Law in Maryland

bought a car - car is leased!

I just bought a used car from a private party. We did a bill of sale, she took my cashiers check, paid off the car, and when the title came to her, I find out it was a lease (which she paid off the purchase of the car), but the title is in VW's name not her name, now she has to re-title car in her name then she can sign the title over to me (now in progress). I have 2 questions: one, since she sold me a car she didn't own, what are my rights here? I have possession of the car, but it's not in my name and wont be for another 10 days at least and DMV told her and me that she had no legal basis to sell this car to me so I feel like I am hanging out in the wind legally here. Two, if I get stopped by police while I am in this limbo situation, am I screwed? Should I not drive it at all? Can I sue the idiot for selling me a car she didn't own? I am very frustrated by this whole experience and wish I had thought to ask that simple question about a month ago!!!

Asked on 4/22/09, 2:43 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Carter Ferrington Bar Adon Vogel PLLC

Re: bought a car - car is leased!

The worst case scenario would involve the seller keeping your money and not clearing up the mess with the leasing company. Now that she has your money, the sense of urgency on her part may dissipate. It is unclear to me why she couldn't have asked VW to transfer title directly to you. A lawsuit is unlikely to resolve your short-term problems, and it's long-term success would depend upon both the basis of the suit and, of course, ultimately the ability to collect a judgement if you were to be fortunate enough to be granted a judgement against the seller. There are, however, some valuable car-buying lessons in this tale of woe! One of these lessons it the only way to avoid this problem in the future is to buy a car only when the title is clear and can be transferred immediately. This does mean, however, that you will have to walk away from deals where the person trying to sell the car lacks a clear title as she's leasing the car or still has a car loan.

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Answered on 4/22/09, 4:39 pm

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