Vehicle Industry Registration Procedures Manual

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Section 19 of 38

Chapter 18: Lien Sales – Abandoned – Abated Vehicles

18.155 Vessel Liens—Boaters Lien Law (CH&NC §§500–509)

Every person has a lien (dependent upon possession), for compensation for making repairs, performing labor upon, furnishing supplies or materials for, storing, repairing or safekeeping of, and for costs incurred in mooring, berthing, wharfage, and anchorage of, and for the rental of a trailer parking space for that vessel or vessel/trailer combination, subject to registration with DMV.

The lien arises at the time a written statement of lien (bill) specifying the charges for services and/or storage is sent to the vessel owner(s). “Vessel” includes any trailer used in connection with the vessel which is in the possession of the lienholder at the time the lien arises.

Fair Market Value Statement—A statement of the fair market value completed and signed by a licensed yacht and ship broker must be sent along with the Notice of Pending Lien Sale for Vessels or Vessel/Trailers Valued at $1,500 or Less (BOAT 156) (PDF) to the Lien Sale Unit in DMV headquarters. The fair market value statement is not required if the vessel or vessel/trailer was a police impound.

Exception: The estimated value for vessels removed, or arranged for removal, by a public agency must be determined by that agency. If the agency fails or refuses to do so within three days after the removal date, the lienholder or lienholder’s agent must provide it on a Statement of Facts (REG 256) (PDF) (CH&NC §507).

Limitations of Lien (CH&NC §502)—No lien shall be valid for over $1,500 without the written consent of the legal owner. The cost for services may exceed the estimated charges by up to 10 percent.

  • Consent for storage charges in excess of $1,500 is presumed if the legal owner fails to respond to the consent request within 15 days after receipt thereof.
  • Consent in all cases is presumed for the 30-day period immediately following the giving of the notice.

Note: The lien shall not include any personal property in or on the vessel and such property must be given to the registered owner or the owner’s authorized agent upon demand (CH&NC §509).

Before a lien sale may be conducted, the lienholder must, within 60 days of the lien arising, either apply for authorization to conduct a lien sale in accordance with CH&NC §503 or file an action in court. If the lienholder cannot comply, recourse would depend on civil action.

Proceeds of the Sale—Proceeds of the sale shall be to pay the lien and the cost of keeping and selling the vessel. The actual cost of sale shall not exceed $100 for a vessel without a trailer and $125 for a vessel with a trailer, exclusive of DMV’s charges. The remainder, if any, shall be forwarded within 15 days to the Lien Sale Unit in DMV headquarters (CH&NC §507.5).

Storage Facility Records—Every keeper of a storage facility must keep a written record of each vessel subject to registration with DMV, which is stored for compensation for a period more than 12 hours. All records must be open to inspection by any peace officer (CH&NC §754).