Georgia law classifies a car as abandoned if it has been left unattended on public property for five days or on private property for 30 days. This includes cars that were left for service or repairs if the owner does not come to get the car within 30 days after those repairs were completed. Once sold at public auction, purchasers can apply for titles at the Georgia Department of Revenue.
Notification to Owner of Record
If a car has been abandoned in Georgia, whether on public or private property, call the local police and have the car towed to a storage lot or other safe location. The law requires police to notify the owner within 72 hours of removing the vehicle. Police search vehicle registration and title records at the Georgia Department of Revenue to identify the owner. If the owner cannot be found, police place an advertisement in the local or county paper with a description of the car to give the owner the opportunity to come forward.
When an abandoned car is towed, whoever is responsible for the towing and storage of the vehicle acquires a lien on the car for those fees, as well as the cost of notifying the owner. Once notified, either directly or indirectly through newspaper advertisement, the owner has 10 days to come forward. If the owner doesn't claim the car in that time, the lien holder can file an affidavit with the local court to foreclose on his lien. Following proof of notice to the original owner and payment of fees, the court orders the car sold at public auction.
Purchase at Public Sale
Georgia law requires all abandoned vehicles to be sold at public auction or scrapped. Before the sale, the auction must be advertised in the county or local paper at least once a week for two weeks. If a car was abandoned on private property, the property owner can obtain title to the car if she attends the auction and makes the highest bid on the car.
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After the auction, the winning bidder receives a certified copy of the court order authorizing the sale. She can file that certified copy along with an application for registration and pay the appropriate fee to get a title for the car from the Department of Revenue.
Title Not Required or Allowed
If the car is model year 1985 or older, Georgia does not require the car to be titled, and the Department of Revenue does not issue titles for cars that old. Additionally, if a car has no license tags, is seven years old or older, or has major mechanical or structural damage, police may declare that car a derelict vehicle. Once the car is classified this way, it may be sold for scrap but cannot be rebuilt or sold to the public and never can be titled again.