Q: Selling a car to a "friend" and now getting stabbed in the back, what should I do?
My friend wanted to buy my car so him and his wife would have a second vehicle for work, so I agreed to sell him my car for $1,200. He did not have the full $1,200 and needed the car urgently so I decided to let him use the car and make payments to me and I would give him the title when it was paid off, he gave me some stuff one time and I agreed to take $100 off the amount he owed towards the car, and he has made one $100 payment so he's now only owing $1,000 on the car. On top of that he was having some financial issues and asked me for $500 and since he had made an effort to pay I agreed because I felt like he would pay. It has over a year since we made the initial agreement and he's made no efforts to pay since the beginning of the year. I have also found out he's placed my car for sale over a month ago on an app to part it out. Our friendship is definitely going to end. What is the best way to handle this situation so I can get my money? (all of our agreements are only verbal)
A: North Carolina has a statute that allows you to reclaim your personal property that has been wrongfully kept be someone else. Assuming you still have the title to the car, it should be relatively straight forward to prove that you are the owner of it. You may file an action in court to recover possession of your personal property and may obtain immediate possession of it by following certain procedures that the clerk of court should be able to go over with you in more detail. Typically, you will need to file an affidavit demonstrating that you are the true owner of the property and that it does not belong to anyone else. If the affidavit complies, the clerk may issue you an order enabling you to obtain the car immediately. A lawyer will be able to better assist you with any questions or hiccups that come along the way. Good luck!
A: You can file a small claims action against your friend for the amount of money owed or to recover the property. Since the title is still in your name, it is possible that court will order a return of the vehicle. The action must be filed in the county where your friend resides. Small claims is has lower filing fees and you do not need an attorney to represent you. If you need the car immediately, there is a process that may allow recovery of the vehicle in the district court. However, you will likely need an attorney to represent you for this type of claim.
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