- Many motorists have found they owe thousands of rands in unpaid vehicle licence fees.
- Fees accumulate when a sold car has not been through a change of ownership process.
- News24 Motoring licence specialist JP Pater explains what to do in this situation.
Have you sold your car, perhaps even years ago, only to discover the vehicle is still in your name? Or have you recently tried to register a new car and found you owe thousands of rands in unpaid vehicle licence fees? News24 Motoring reader Stephan Baker wrote to our editor as he has found himself in this predicament.
Baker writes: "Several years ago, my wife had an accident with our Jeep Grand Cherokee. The insurance company paid out a settlement that was not sufficient to get the vehicle repaired.
"The repair company offered to purchase the vehicle, and we reluctantly agreed to sell. After handing over the paperwork and completing the documents, we got paid. However, this company never got the vehicle repaired and back on the road, nor did they transfer ownership to themselves.
"We now wish to purchase a small vehicle, but the traffic department refuses to register the new car in my wife's name. They have presented her with an outstanding bill of R14 000 for unpaid licence fees that have accumulated over the past decade.
"Could you please refer us to the relevant authorities to appeal our predicament as we are over 70 years old and don't have any money to pay this fine? Do you have some experience or knowledge as to how we can get this resolved?
News24 Motoring has reached out to our vehicle licence specialist JP Plater to ask for advice on what the Bakers, or any of our readers, could do in this situation.
What to do
The major problem when selling a vehicle is the risk that the buyer or new owner does not change ownership, which then becomes a terrible headache for the previous owner. The problem here is that it's NOT the buyer's responsibility to complete the change of ownership, only the registration of the new vehicle. So, on this note, the following needs to occur:
1. The seller must hand in the Change of Ownership form. It has many names, including the NCO form, also known as the "yellow form" at licence centres. NCO stands for Notice of Change of Ownership.
2. The new buyer must apply for registration of the motor vehicle.
It's better to submit the yellow form several times and hear it was already done than not submit it and have accumulating fees, as in this case. The licensing authority is rigorous on this and holds the seller responsible.
However, there is a solution to a situation like this. If he's lucky, Mr Baker could apply for a rebate or even have it written off. Unfortunately, it's a process, and the vehicle owner must apply to their registering authority - your closest licensing department or Motor Vehicle Licencing Authority (MVLA) for a rebate.
This will include explaining what happened and also giving a breakdown of their financial situation.
The other alternative is to apply for a duplicate Natis document and deregister the vehicle but still pay a certain amount, which Mr Baker could try to claim back.
The other option, which will involve the police, is signing an affidavit detailing your story and then submitting the yellow form with the buyer's details. Also, make a note if the buyer is untraceable. This route will remove the vehicle from their name, and they might get the arrears voided.
Remember, when a vehicle licence is not renewed in time, a penalty fee will be added for each month the licence is not renewed. So, even if your car is in for repairs, it's best to renew your vehicle licence to stay up to date.