If you are a private property owner in Alaska and you are in possession of an abandoned vehicle, you may be able to title it in your name. In most states, abandoned vehicles cannot be kept after being deemed abandoned. However, in Alaska, there is a specific abandoned vehicle process that can allow a private property owner to take ownership of the vehicle.

What is an abandoned vehicle?

Abandoned vehicles are vehicles that have been left on public or private property by their owner with no further intentions to collect or dispose of the vehicle. If you know who owns the car or know how it got on the property, it is not considered to be an abandoned vehicle.

In Alaska, a vehicle is considered abandoned when it is left unattended near a public road or highway for more than 48 hours, left unattended on private property for 24 hours, or left on other public property for more than 30 days.

Step 1: DPPA request for the registered owner’s information

Before filing the claim of ownership, make sure that your situation meets the definition of an abandoned vehicle as defined by Alaska Statute 28.11.020 Presumption of Abandonment. If your situation applies, the first step to the abandoned vehicle process in Alaska, and in all states, is to send an official DPPA request to the DMV for the release of motor vehicle records.

The Driver’s Privacy and Protection Act (DPPA) of 1994 prevents unauthorized access to personal information collected b state motor vehicle departments. This act was put in place to keep drivers safe from improper use of disclosed personal information to a third party. The DMV will take your DPPA request very seriously and oftentimes they may not release the information after the initial request. To request DPPA information from the state of Alaska, complete the Request for Research/Verification of Motor Vehicle Record (Form 851).

Step 2: Notify the prior owner(s) and lienholder(s)

After you’ve received the contact information for the registered owner, you must notify them and any other interested parties by certified mail stating that you are claiming ownership of this vehicle that has been deemed abandoned. The notice must be made via registered or certified mail as defined by Alaska Statute 28.05.101 Giving Notice.

If the registered owner or interested parties do not respond within 30 days, you must provide proof that the notice was undeliverable, returned, or refused. Make sure you keep all mailing receipts when foregoing an abandoned vehicle process. After those 30 days with no claims of ownership, you may apply to have the vehicle title transferred to you as the property owner under Alaska Statute AS 28.11.025 Claim of Ownership by Private Property Owner.

Step 3: File your claim of ownership

Using the Claim of Ownership/Involuntary Lien form (Form 826), provide the following information on the vehicle:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Make
  • Model
  • Year
  • Body
  • Color
  • Odometer reading
  • Registered owner name and address (from DPPA request only)
  • Lienholder name and address (if applicable, from DPPA request only)
  • License plate number (if applicable)

To file for a claim of ownership, you must disclaim why you are claiming the lien. In this situation as a private property owner, make sure you’re describing the situation correctly as an abandoned vehicle. Note that you will not be able to sell or transfer the title until the vehicle is in your name. Then, have the form notarized by a public notary and submit it to the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles and complete a state title application.

If you live in Alaska, you may be able to keep abandoned vehicles that you find on your property. The steps listed above are designed to provide a general overview of the abandoned vehicle process in Alaska and will work for most vehicles if executed properly. Most states aren’t “finder’s keepers” when it comes to abandoned vehicles, but if you’re in Alaska, you might just get lucky!

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