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There are numerous occurrences in South Africa in which a motor vehicle is sold, written off or stolen, and the previous owner of that vehicle is still charged penalties for late registration or find themselves in a predicament where they are unable to renew their license for their current vehicle due to the fact that the license on the “old” vehicle has expired for a period of more than 23 days. Do you have any rights of recourse in this regard? What are your responsibilities in circumstances such as these? After doing some research, it seems to show that the law is not really on the side of the person under whose name the vehicle is registered, this is so as the greatest burden is carried by them.
Let’s run through a number of different examples in which you could find yourself in this position. Let’s begin with a rather innocent example whereby you sold your vehicle to another person. In such a case, both the Seller and the Purchaser need to fill in the relevant sections of a Notice of Change of Ownership (Hereon referred to as an NCO), this is then to be submitted to the Registering Authority. It is the responsibility of the Seller to make sure that this is done. Once this has been done, it is the Buyer’s responsibility to register and license the vehicle within 21 days. But now what do you do if the Seller does not comply with this rule? It will then be necessary to fill out another NCO and attach an affidavit to the form which sets out your position, both the NCO as well as the affidavit needs to contain all the particulars of the Purchaser. Provided this is done, the Purchaser will then be liable for any outstanding fees from that date onwards.
What do you do if your vehicle is stolen? Common sense dictates that your first step is to report this theft to the police, this step has to be taken within 24 hours of you becoming aware of the theft. You then have three months to notify the Registration Authority, however, it is best to do it as soon as possible due to the fact that the owner of the vehicle will only become exempt from any licensing fees from the first day of the following month in which an Acknowledgment of Notification has been issued. This means that when you report the vehicle as stolen to the Registration Authority, they must then provide you with an acknowledgment that they have been notified of the theft. Once again this is a burden which is placed on the owner of the vehicle.
If your vehicle is written off or is declared permanently unfit for use as a vehicle, the procedure is similar to that of if the vehicle was stolen. The owner needs to notify the title-holder of the vehicle as soon as possible (This is very often the bank that has provided you with the finance for the vehicle), and within 3 months, notify the Registration Authority. The owner is then exempt from fees from the first day of the following month in which an acknowledgment of notification has been issued.
When it comes to deregistering the vehicle, it is necessary to provide the Registration Authority with the original papers, if these papers have been lost or no longer exist then it is necessary to apply for duplicate papers. It is important to note that there is no concept of backdating the registration, this means that the papers need to be obtained and deregistration needs to take place as soon as possible because the owner of the vehicle will remain to be liable for any and all fees up until deregistration has been completed.
So, how do you go about deregistering a vehicle? Your first step is to compile all necessary documents for the Registration Authority; certified copy of your identification documents, certified copy of proof of ownership, any necessary supporting documentation (for example if an affidavit will be required), as well as the vehicle’s registration certificate. Once you have these, you then need to complete an Application for Deregistration Form. Your Application should be processed on the very same day, this process is free however you will still be liable for any outstanding fees that were incurred prior to the deregistration.
This all seems like such a hassle though, for example is it really necessary to deregister a vehicle that will never touch a public road again due to it being declared unfit for use? The answer is; MOST DEFINITELY YES. There is a growing criminal trend in South Africa in which criminals purchase vehicles that have not been properly deregistered and they are then able to elicit your personal information and use it to register stolen and illegal vehicles. You are then held responsible for al licensing fees or fines incurred by these vehicles.
As an owner of a vehicle that should be, but wasn’t, deregistered; what are your rights of recourse? As there are express and specific rules surrounding the deregistration of vehicles, it may be necessary to have a very well drafted affidavit to support why the vehicle was not deregistered or why the change of ownership did not take place. In a matter where the change of ownership was not completed and you have had to pay fees on a vehicle that, as far as you’re concerned, is no longer yours; you may have a claim for damages against the person you sold the vehicle to.
Should you feel like you are stuck in a position, and are not sure where to go, contact us for a consultation. You could then be provided with the necessary guidance you need, a well drafted affidavit, and at the completion of this process, we could aid as a strong pain killer for this ongoing headache.