TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – When you buy a vehicle in Florida, the law requires dealers to apply to transfer the title into your name within 30 days. If they don’t, the state can fine the dealer or even suspend or revoke their license.
This law is what gives regulators the power to help make sure consumers can register their cars in their names.
But State Senator Tom Wright, of Volusia County, has filed a bill that would take that requirement away, and critics say it give more power to dealers and curt consumers.
Senate Bill 1346 would amend existing legislation so that a dealer no longer “must” obtain a title in the name of the purchaser. Instead, the bill would replace “must” with “should.” The proposed bill literally strikes out words that give the state regulators power.
Wright has not returned calls from Consumer Investigator Shannon Behnken to explain his motivation but Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, whose office processes titles, was stunned when he was notified of this bill.”
“It would have a major consequence,” Fasano said. “First, if you do not require the dealer to turn a title over to the new owner in their name within a certain amount of time or maybe never, that owner, or that new owner never truly owned the car.”
That would mean they couldn’t get a permanent license plate. That’s exactly what my ongoing Better Call Behnken investigation found happening to Carvana customers. Dec. 17, state regulators responded, giving Carvana until the end of January to clear up title issues or face losing its license.
Wright’s bill was filed just four days later. Fasano calls the timing “suspicious.”
“My question would be what even makes you think of this?” Fasano asked. “I mean most legislators don’t even have a clue that the transferring of a title has to be done within 30 days, so to come up with legislation like that, somebody had to whisper in your ear.”
The bill would also take away the state’s ability to revoke a dealer’s license for failure to transfer title. Fasano says this means the state couldn’t force a dealer like Carvana to do anything.
“They would have no recourse,” he said.