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October 22, 2019
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The Florida Statutes

The 2019 Florida Statutes

Title XL
REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY
Chapter 713
LIENS, GENERALLY
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F.S. 713.585
713.585 Enforcement of lien by sale of motor vehicle.A person claiming a lien under s. 713.58 for performing labor or services on a motor vehicle may enforce such lien by sale of the vehicle in accordance with the following procedures:
(1) The lienor or the lienor’s agent must give notice of the lien by certified mail to the registered owner of the vehicle, to the customer as indicated on the order for repair, and to all other persons claiming an interest therein or lien thereon, as disclosed by the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or as disclosed by the records of any corresponding agency of any other state in which the vehicle is identified through a records check of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent commercially available system as being the current state where the vehicle is titled. Such notice must:
(a) Be sent to the registered owner, the customer, and all other persons claiming an interest therein or lien thereon within 7 business days, excluding Saturday and Sunday, after the date on which storage charges begin to accrue on the vehicle. However, in no event shall the notice of lien be sent less than 30 days before the sale of the motor vehicle.
(b) Be sent by certified mail with the last 8 digits of the vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle subject to the lien clearly printed in the delivery address box and on the outside of the envelope sent to the registered owner, the customer, and all other persons claiming an interest therein or lien thereon.
(c) Contain a description of the vehicle, including, at minimum, its year, make, vehicle identification number, and location.
(d) Contain the name and address of the owner of the vehicle, the customer as indicated on the order for repair, and any person claiming an interest therein or lien thereon.
(e) Contain the name, address, and telephone number of the lienor.
(f) Contain notice that the lienor claims a lien on the vehicle for labor and services performed and storage charges, if any, and the cash sum which, if paid to the lienor, would be sufficient to redeem the vehicle from the lien claimed by the lienor.
(g) Contain the motor vehicle repair shop’s registration number, owner’s name, and physical address and the entity name, as registered with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, of the business where the repair work or storage occurred, which must also appear on the outside of the envelope sent to the registered owner, the customer, and all other persons claiming an interest in or lien on the vehicle.
(h) Contain the name of the person or entity that authorized the labor or services on the vehicle.
(i) Contain an itemized statement of the amount claimed to be owed to the lienor, including the date the vehicle was dropped off for repairs; the date the repairs were completed; the date the customer was notified of the completion of the repairs; the amount due for repairs, adjustments, or modifications to the vehicle; any administrative fees; and any daily storage charges.
(j) Contain notice that the lien claimed by the lienor is subject to enforcement pursuant to this section and that the vehicle may be sold to satisfy the lien.
(k) Contain the date, time, and location of any proposed or scheduled sale of the vehicle. A vehicle may not be sold earlier than 60 days after completion of the repair work.
(l) Contain notice that the owner of the vehicle or any person claiming an interest therein or lien thereon has a right to a hearing at any time before the scheduled date of sale by filing a demand for hearing with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which the vehicle is held and mailing copies of the demand for hearing to all other owners and lienors as reflected on the notice.
(m) Contain notice that the owner of the vehicle has a right to recover possession of the vehicle without instituting judicial proceedings by posting bond in accordance with s. 559.917.
(n) Contain notice that any proceeds from the sale of the vehicle remaining after payment of the amount claimed to be due and owing to the lienor will be deposited with the clerk of the circuit court for disposition upon court order pursuant to subsection (8).
(o) Contain notice that a lienholder, if any, has the right, as specified in subsection (5), to demand a hearing or to post a bond.
(p) Contain a statement that the lienor will make the vehicle available for inspection during regular business hours within 3 business days after receiving a written request to inspect the vehicle from a notice recipient, who may present either a copy of an electronic title or a paper title as evidence of his or her interest in and right to inspect the vehicle.
(q) Contain the address at which the vehicle is physically located.
(2) If attempts to locate the owner or lienholder are unsuccessful after a check of the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and any state disclosed by the check of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent commercially available system, the lienor must notify the local law enforcement agency in writing by certified mail or acknowledged hand delivery that the lienor has been unable to locate the owner or lienholder, that a physical search of the vehicle has disclosed no ownership information, and that a good faith effort, including records checks of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles database and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent commercially available system, has been made. A description of the motor vehicle which includes the year, make, and identification number must be given on the notice. This notification must take place within 7 business days, excluding Saturday and Sunday, after the date on which storage charges begin to accrue on the vehicle. For purposes of this subsection, the term “good faith effort” means that the following checks have been performed by the company to establish the prior state of registration and title:
(a) A check of the department’s database for the owner and any lienholder.
(b) A check of the federally mandated electronic National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent commercially available system to determine the state of registration when there is not a current title or registration record for the vehicle on file with the department.
(c) A check of the vehicle for any type of tag, tag record, temporary tag, or regular tag.
(d) A check of the vehicle for an inspection sticker or other stickers and decals that could indicate the state of possible registration.
(e) A check of the interior of the vehicle for any papers that could be in the glove box, trunk, or other areas for the state of registration.
(3) A vehicle may not be sold earlier than 60 days after completion of the repair work. If the date of the sale was not included in the notice of lien required in subsection (1), notice of the sale must be sent by certified mail at least 15 days before the date of sale to the customer as indicated on the order for repair and to all other persons claiming an interest in or lien on the motor vehicle, as disclosed by the records of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles or of a corresponding agency of any other state in which the vehicle appears to have been registered after completion of a check of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent commercially available system. Such notice must:
(a) Be sent by certified mail with the last 8 digits of the vehicle identification number of the motor vehicle subject to the sale clearly identified and printed in the delivery address box and on the outside of the envelope sent to the registered owner, the customer, and all other persons claiming an interest therein or lien thereon.
(b) Contain the motor vehicle repair shop’s registration number, owner’s name, and physical address and the entity name, as registered with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, of the business where the repair work or storage occurred, which must also appear on the outside of the envelope containing the notice of sale in the return address section of the envelope.
(4) The lienor, at least 15 days before the proposed or scheduled date of sale of the vehicle, shall publish the notice required by this section once in a newspaper circulated in the county where the vehicle repair work was completed and where the sale is to take place. A certificate of compliance with the notification provisions of this section, which includes the vehicle identification number, verified by the lienor, together with a copy of the notice of lien required by subsection (1) and the notice of sale required by subsection (3), which must include proof of publication, and checks of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles and the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent commercially available system, must be duly and expeditiously filed with the clerk of the circuit court in the county where the vehicle is held. The lienor, at the time of filing the certificate of compliance, must pay to the clerk of that court a service charge of $10 for indexing and recording the certificate.
(5) At any time before the proposed or scheduled date of sale of a vehicle, the owner of the vehicle, or any person claiming an interest in the vehicle or a lien thereon, may post a bond following the procedures outlined in s. 559.917 or file a demand for hearing with the clerk of the circuit court in the county in which the vehicle is held to determine whether the vehicle has been wrongfully taken or withheld from her or him. A lienholder has standing to allege any violation of part IX of chapter 559 in a proceeding instituted pursuant to this subsection. Any person who files a demand for hearing shall mail copies of the demand to all other owners and lienors as reflected on the notice required in subsection (1).
(a) Upon the filing of a demand for hearing, a hearing shall be held before the proposed or scheduled date of sale of the vehicle.
(b) Upon the posting of the bond and payment of the applicable fee set forth in s. 28.24, the clerk of the court shall issue a certificate notifying the lienor of the posting of the bond and directing the lienor to release the vehicle to the lienholder or the owner, based upon whomever posted the bond.
(c) If a lienholder obtains the vehicle and the owner of the vehicle is not in default under the installment sales contract or title loan at the time the lienholder has possession of the vehicle, the lienholder must return the vehicle to the owner within 5 days after the owner repays the lienholder for the amount of the bond, or makes arrangements to repay the lienholder for the bond under terms agreeable to the lienholder. A lienholder may retain possession of the vehicle if the owner is in default until such time as the default is cured and the amount of the bond is repaid by the owner, or an arrangement agreeable to the lienholder is made with the owner.
(6) In the event a lienor institutes a judicial proceeding to enforce a lien, no filing fee shall be required at the time of filing, but the court shall require the lienor to pay the filing fee unless the lienor shall prevail in the action.
(7) At a hearing on a complaint relating to the requirements of this section, the court shall issue an order determining:
(a) Whether the vehicle is subject to a valid lien by the lienor and the amount thereof;
(b) The priority of the lien of the lienor as against any existing security interest in the vehicle;
(c) The distribution of any proceeds of the sale by the clerk of the circuit court;
(d) The awarding of damages, if any;
(e) The award of reasonable attorney fees and costs, at the court’s discretion, to the prevailing party; and
(f) The reasonableness of storage charges.

A final order, by the court, must also provide for immediate payment of any proceeds or awards, and the immediate release of the bond to the posting party, if applicable.

(8) A vehicle subject to lien enforcement pursuant to this section must be sold by the lienor at public sale. Immediately upon the sale of the vehicle and payment in cash of the purchase price, the lienor shall deposit with the clerk of the circuit court the proceeds of the sale less the amount claimed by the lienor for work done and storage, if any, and all reasonable costs and expenses incurred in conducting the sale, including any attorney’s fees and costs ordered by the court. Simultaneously with depositing the proceeds of sale remaining after payment to the lienor, the lienor shall file with the clerk a verified report of the sale stating a description of the vehicle sold, including the vehicle identification number; the name and address of the purchaser; the date of the sale; and the selling price. The report shall also itemize the amount retained by the lienor pursuant to this section and shall indicate whether a hearing was demanded and held. All proceeds held by the court shall be held for the benefit of the owner of the vehicle or any lienholder whose lien is discharged by the sale and shall be disbursed only upon order of the court. Unless a proceeding is initiated to validate a claim to such proceeds within 1 year and a day from the date of the sale, the proceeds shall be deemed abandoned property and disposition thereof shall be governed by s. 705.103. The clerk shall receive 5 percent of the proceeds deposited with her or him, not to exceed $25, for her or his services under this section.
(9)(a) A copy of the certificate of compliance, which must include the vehicle identification number, and the report of sale, certified by the clerk of the court, a copy of the notice of lien required by subsection (1) and the notice of sale required by subsection (3), and proof of the required check of the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System or an equivalent commercially available system shall constitute satisfactory proof for application to the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles for transfer of title, together with any other proof required by any rules and regulations of the department.
(b) The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles may not approve an application for transfer of title if the application fails to include a copy of the notice of lien required by subsection (1) and the notice of sale required by subsection (3). The vehicle identification number on the notice of lien must match the vehicle identification number of the vehicle that is the subject of the transfer of title.
(10) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed as affecting an owner’s right to redeem her or his vehicle from the lien at any time prior to sale by paying the amount claimed by the lienor for work done and assessed storage charges, plus any costs incurred by the repair shop for utilizing enforcement procedures under this section.
(11) Nothing in this section shall operate in derogation of the rights and remedies established by s. 559.917.
(12) When a vehicle is sold by a lienor in accordance with this law, a purchaser for value takes title to the vehicle free and clear of all claims, liens, and encumbrances whatsoever, unless otherwise provided by court order.
(13) A failure to make good faith efforts as defined in subsection (2) precludes the imposition of any storage charges against the vehicle. If a lienor fails to provide notice to any person claiming a lien on a vehicle under subsection (1) within 7 business days after the date of storage of the vehicle, the lienor may not charge the person for more than 7 days of storage, but such failure does not affect charges made for repairs, adjustments, or modifications to the vehicle or the priority of liens on the vehicle.
(14) At any time before the proposed or scheduled date of sale of a vehicle, the owner, the customer, or a person claiming an interest therein or lien thereon may request to inspect the vehicle. The lienor must make the vehicle available for inspection during regular business hours within 3 business days after receiving a written request to inspect the vehicle.
(15)(a) A lienor or the lienor’s agent may charge an administrative fee to the registered owner or a person of record claiming a lien against the vehicle to obtain release of the vehicle from the claim of lien imposed under this section. Such administrative fee may not exceed $250. For purposes of this paragraph, the term “administrative fee” means a lien fee or any fee imposed by the lienor or the lienor’s agent for administrative costs added to the amount due for storage, repairs, adjustments, or modifications to the vehicle.
(b) A lienor or the lienor’s agent may not charge fees or costs, other than those authorized in this section, that exceed $250.
(16) A motor vehicle repair shop, garage, automotive service facility, or storage operator must use a third-party service approved by the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to transmit all notices required by this section. If there is no third-party service approved by the department, the motor vehicle repair shop, garage, automotive service facility, or storage operator may mail the notices and provide evidence of compliance with this section upon submission of an application for certificate of title or certificate of destruction.
(a) For purposes of this subsection, the term “third-party service” means a qualified business entity that, upon a request submitted through a website by a motor vehicle repair shop, garage, automotive service facility, or storage operator:
1. Accesses the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System records to obtain the last state of record of the vehicle.
2. Accesses the owner, lienholder, and insurer information, as applicable, for a vehicle from the department.
3. Electronically generates the notices required of a motor vehicle repair shop, an automotive service facility, a garage, and a towing-storage operator by this section through the website.
4. Prints and sends the notices required under this section to each owner, lienholder, and insurer of record by certified mail.
5. Electronically returns tracking information or other proof of mailing and delivery of the notices to the motor vehicle repair shop, automotive service facility, garage, and towing-storage operator.
6. Electronically reports to the department, via an electronic data exchange process using a web interface, the following information related to the repair and storage notices:
a. The vehicle identification number.
b. The license plate number.
c. The name and address of the repair shop or lienor.
d. The physical location of the vehicle.
e. The date on which the vehicle was dropped off for repairs.
f. The date on which the repairs were completed.
g. The amount due for repairs and the storage amount per day.
h. The dates on which the notice was mailed and delivered.
i. The date on which the owner was notified that the repairs were completed.
j. Other information required by the department.
(b) A third-party service must apply to and be approved by the department in order to provide notices under this section. The department shall prescribe the format for the application. The department may approve the applicant as qualified to perform the services provided in paragraph (a) if the applicant:
1. Provides the department with a $1 million bond.
2. Submits an acceptable internal control and data security audit (Level 2) or its equivalent performed by a licensed certified public accountant.
3. Successfully demonstrates the ability to electronically provide required data to the department via an electronic data exchange process using a web interface.
(c) The department may deny, suspend, or revoke approval of a third-party service if the department determines that the third-party service has committed an act of fraud or misrepresentation related to a notice required by this section.
(d) A third-party service must maintain all records related to providing notices under this section for 5 years and allow the department to inspect and copy such records upon request. The records may be maintained in an electronic format.
(e) A third-party service must annually provide the department with evidence that it maintains a $1 million bond and must annually submit an internal control and data security audit (Level 2) or its equivalent performed by a licensed certified public accountant to continue its approved status each year.
(f) A third-party service must maintain a publicly available website that allows owners, registrants, lienholders, insurance companies, or their agents to search for notices sent pursuant to this section. The search results must exclude personal identifying information but provide the same information provided to the department.
(17) A lienor must release to the owner, lienholder, or agent thereof all of the personal property found in but not affixed to the vehicle. Upon payment of the charges owed, the lienor must release the vehicle to the paying owner, lienholder, or agent thereof.
(18) A lienor must accept either a copy of an electronic title or a paper title as evidence of a person’s interest in a vehicle.
History.s. 1, ch. 80-139; s. 475, ch. 81-259; s. 10, ch. 87-145; s. 3, ch. 90-307; s. 76, ch. 94-237; s. 823, ch. 97-102; s. 74, ch. 2013-160; s. 38, ch. 2016-166; s. 3, ch. 2019-73.