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Title Litigation

Disclaimer

The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV) provides the following information on title litigation as a public service. TxDMV believes this information to be accurate and reliable but we cannot promise it is always up-to-date and correct. TxDMV assumes no responsibility or liability for any errors in the information or for the use of the information provided. TxDMV is not providing this information as legal advice to address the circumstances of your case. The contents of this page are not rules or binding guidance of the TxDMV and cannot be used as such in a court or any other dispute with TxDMV. When in doubt about a specific case or requirement, you should consult with a lawyer.

If you have a question regarding a motor vehicle title, your local TxDMV Regional Service Center (RSC) should be your first stop – either in person or over the phone. Your local TxDMV RSC can tell you whether you qualify for a bond, whether a correction to the record is possible, or whether you may need a court order to revoke, rescind, reinstate, or issue a new title.

About Court Orders

Certain changes to motor vehicle titles will require a court order from a Texas county court at law or district court. In most cases, an order issued by a Justice of the Peace is not acceptable.

Please note that a recent statutory change to Texas Transportation Code, § 501.033 authorizes the department to reassign the manufacturer’s VIN to a vehicle if law enforcement is able to determine the original manufacturer’s identification number and an applicant is able to provide ownership evidence.  Please contact a TxDMV Regional Service Center for details. 

Please also note that pursuant to Texas Transportation Code, § 501.0521, a judge may not order the department to change the type of title for a nonrepairable vehicle titled after 2003 or a vehicle that has been issued a certificate of authority to demolish. 

In addition, recent statutory changes to Transportation Code, § 501.091 added the following to the definition of “nonrepairable motor vehicle”:

  • a vehicle that has been sold for “export only”
  • a vehicle that a salvage vehicle dealer has reported to the department will be dismantled, scrapped, or destroyed

The most common scenarios that require a court order include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • You wish to appeal the determination of a tax assessor-collector after a hearing on the refusal, rescission, cancellation, suspension, or revocation of title by TxDMV.
  • You believe someone fraudulently transferred your title into his or her name.
  • You believe someone fraudulently placed a lien on your title.
  • You are a lienholder and you believe someone fraudulently removed your lien from the title record.
  • You sold a vehicle and the paperwork involves an incorrect name or incorrect Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the 5-day deadline for correction has passed.
  • You sold a vehicle and transferred title, but the purchaser changed his or her mind and no longer wants the vehicle. Title is pending issuance or has already issued in the purchaser’s name.
  • You need a VIN assignment for your vehicle but do not have required ownership evidence.

This list is representative of the most common scenarios, but you may also need to obtain a court order in other circumstances as well. If you are not sure whether a court order is necessary, please contact a private attorney.  For assistance, you may also contact your local TxDMV RSC or the TxDMV title litigation section by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by calling (512) 465-1286.

How to Get
a Court Order

If you determine a court order is necessary, you may follow these steps:

STEP 1: IF you wish to prevent a title transfer, submit a written request for a temporary hold. If a temporary hold is not necessary, go to STEP 2

To prevent a Texas title from transferring, contact TxDMV and request that a temporary hold be placed on the vehicle record. This hold, which is effective for ten business days only, is also referred to as a “legal restraint.” If submitted in a timely manner, the hold will temporarily prevent any title transactions from being processed so you have time to file your petition in court.

A request for a temporary hold must be made in writing, and must include the year, make, model and VIN of the vehicle and a clear explanation why the hold is needed. Please include your name, telephone number, mailing address, and email address (if available) so we may contact you if we need additional information to process your hold request.

Submit the hold request by fax to (512) 465-5638, or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you cannot fax or email your request, you may also mail it or provide it by hand delivery to the following address:

Litigation Section
Office of General Counsel
Texas Department of Motor Vehicles
4000 Jackson Avenue
Austin, Texas 78731

When TxDMV receives the written request with all the required information, we will place the temporary hold on the record for ten business days.

STEP 2: File a petition in a county court at law or district court in the county where you reside or in which the vehicle is titled, and serve the petition on TxDMV.

In some instances, a constitutional county court may have jurisdiction and you may be able to file your case in a constitutional county court instead of a county court at law or district court. Jurisdiction of constitutional county courts varies by court and in some cases depends on the amount in controversy. Texas Government Code Chapter 26 governs county courts. If you are unsure about which court to file your petition in, please consult a private attorney.

If you requested a hold as described in STEP 1, you should file your petition within ten business days of requesting the temporary hold, naming the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles as a defendant, and provide us with a file-stamped copy showing the court’s assigned cause number and court assignment within those ten business days. You should also name all other known parties in the suit. Other parties may be those who also claim to have an interest in the motor vehicle title, such as a lienholder, a co-owner of the vehicle, the current owner listed on the record, or a person with whom you are disputing the title. To request motor vehicle record information, such as the owner and lienholder of record, complete the form VTR-275 and pay the applicable fee.

If you wish TxDMV to refrain from transferring the title record during the pendency of the lawsuit, include a statement to that effect in your petition in order to ensure the legal restraint remains on the title record until the lawsuit has concluded. A properly requested legal restraint will remain on the record after the lawsuit has been filed until TxDMV receives a copy of either a final judgment by the court or an order dismissing the case or non-suiting the TxDMV.

Serve the file-stamped petition on TxDMV within ten business days of requesting the temporary hold; otherwise, the hold will be released and any pending title applications will be processed.

NOTE: If you did not request a hold, or if you do not need a record restrained, you may file your suit at any time and serve a file-stamped copy of the petition on TxDMV.

The following sample petitions are provided as a general guide and should be edited to fit your particular circumstance(s):

These sample petitions are provided as a guide only, and do not address every situation that may occur in a title suit. We suggest you seek the advice of a private attorney if you are unsure what to include in the petition.

Please note that, in most cases, TxDMV is not a true adverse party in these lawsuits and has no interest in the outcome of title litigation. TxDMV will respond to the petition with an answer to the court. However, TxDMV typically does not oppose the plaintiff or participate in hearings or trials, but stands ready to comply with the judgment of the court upon conclusion of the suit.

STEP 3: Prepare an unopposed judgment and forward to TxDMV for review and signature

In most cases, we will sign an unopposed judgment that you may provide the court to facilitate your lawsuit. The following samples of unopposed judgments are provided for your use:

When you have modified the unopposed judgment to fit your needs, please send a copy to the fax number, email address, or mailing address provided in STEP 1. We will review the judgment, usually within 1 to 5 business days, and sign if appropriate. After we return a signed unopposed judgment to you, you may present it to the court to show TxDMV does not oppose the judgment you seek from the court.

NOTE: You must present us with your proposed unopposed judgment prior to presenting to the court.

STEP 4: Provide TxDMV a copy of the judgment or order signed by both the court and TxDMV

When the court has ruled on your suit, send us a file-stamped copy of the signed judgment or order to the fax number, email address or mailing address provided in STEP 1. We will take the steps necessary to comply with the judgment.

STEP 5: Present your signed judgment or order to your local county tax assessor-collector’s office and complete any required steps

Contact your tax assessor-collector’s office for assistance, as necessary.

Cancellation of First
Sale Title Application

In certain circumstances, the department may rescind, cancel, or revoke an application for a title following the cancellation of a first sale by a licensed motor vehicle dealer. Transportation Code §501.051(b) provides as follows:

  1. The department may rescind, cancel, or revoke an application for a title if a notarized or county-stamped affidavit is presented containing:
    1. a statement that the vehicle involved was a new motor vehicle in the process of a first sale;
    2. a statement that the dealer, the applicant, and any lienholder have canceled the sale;
    3. a statement that the vehicle:
      1. was never in the possession of the title applicant; or
      2. was in the possession of the title applicant; and
    4. the signatures of the dealer, the applicant, and any lienholder.

For example, when financing falls through or when a purchaser has second thoughts on a vehicle purchase, the revocation affidavits provide an alternative to a court order for canceling a first sale title application. The department may rescind, cancel, or revoke an application for title if notarized affidavits executed by the purchaser, dealer, and lienholder (if applicable) are presented to the department within 21 days from the initial date of sale. To use this process, all parties must mutually agree to cancel the first sale title application. For more information on this process, including detailed information on the required Form VTR-17, please contact your local TxDMV Regional Service Center. If the transfer occurs after 21 days from the initial date of sale, a court order is necessary to rescind the title issued in error.

 

 

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