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Old 03-03-2015, 21:49   #1
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Question about a repossession

So I read about a man in BVI who bought his boat 11 years ago. Has the new title in hand but around Thanksgiving federal agents boarded his boat to repossess it for the 'previous' owners children. Due to legal reasons he's been advised to not comment on the situation. I'm curious how they could possibly contest his possession of the vessel after all these years. Any thoughts on how someone can do this? Could he have titled it incorrectly? Makes me nervous to sell my house to buy a boat to have some pissy relatives come back a year later to take it from me. I'm also curious how the fed's got involved. I would expect police escorting a repo man but not actual federal authorities.
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:03   #2
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Re: Question about a repossession

Just like a house, using a title company will find problems with the title
One of the fees by the Marine Title company I used was title insurance.

Boat Title Search Information - MarineTitle.com
One of the most important aspects of buying any boat is ensuring that it has a marketable title which is free of liens and encumbrances.


This site says there isn't a statute of limitations.

The Log Newspaper | California Boating & Fishing News - Is-There-a-Statute-of-Limitations-for-a-Maritime-Mechanic-s-Lien-

Unfortunately, most maritime liens are not subject to any statute of limitations. This may seem odd, but we need to remember that recreational boating operates under a legal framework that was designed for commercial shipping and international trade. - See more at: The Log Newspaper | California Boating & Fishing News - Is-There-a-Statute-of-Limitations-for-a-Maritime-Mechanic-s-Lien-
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Old 04-03-2015, 01:49   #3
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Re: Question about a repossession

Do all brokers check for a clean title? Is it just good safety to get title insurance even if you think its clean? I have to read up more on this aspect I guess. So much to learn
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Old 04-03-2015, 03:13   #4
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Re: Question about a repossession

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Originally Posted by koawm View Post
Do all brokers check for a clean title? Is it just good safety to get title insurance even if you think its clean? I have to read up more on this aspect I guess. So much to learn

Hi, typically the broker doesn't do this. They have to make sure that the boat is legally owned by the seller (typically a uscg doc or state reg in the seller's name is enough to be able to legally market a boat), but they don't do a lien search on the vessel. That comes after the offer/survey/sea trial.

Most of the horror stories (but not all, I suppose) come from cash deals between two private parties.

For all the bad press that brokers get here and elsewhere, they do have relationships with good, solid marine title companies who handle funds in an escrow account and perform a legal title transfer, and as part of that, you will be sure that you're buying a boat with a clean title.

Bottom line, as long as you use a reputable marine documentation service, you will be able to be sure that the boat you're buying will remain yours. Brokers can do a lot to steer you the right way, and as the buyer, you're not paying the commission anyway, so why not?

Good luck, and as long as you make sure you transfer ownership in the right way, there's really nothing to worry about.

TJ
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Old 04-03-2015, 04:36   #5
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Re: Question about a repossession

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, koawm.
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:20   #6
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Re: Question about a repossession

With houses and boats (and probably lots of other things) you can almost never be absolutely certain that the title is clear. That's why you get title insurance. It doesn't guarantee that the title is clear. What it does is guarantee that you will be compensated (get your money back) if later on it turns out that the title is NOT clear. Of course, before offering this insurance a reputable title company will do all it can to search the title and be sure that it really is clear--they don't want to have to pay out on the insurance if they don't have to.

Anyway, back to the original question, how could this happen? Pretty easily, really. It could be that there has been a lien on the boat for years. Or it could be that the boat was previously stolen, sold, resold, and only now have the rightful owners found it.

Think about it. If you had a boat stolen from you 20 years ago, and just yesterday--through some miraculous coincidence--you saw it in your local marina, what would you do? You'd go get the cops and you would repossess the boat. The fact that the current owner THOUGHT that he bought it perfectly legally 15 years ago wouldn't really matter, would it? It wouldn't make you stop and say, "Well, after all these years, I guess I should just let that guy keep the boat."

Whether it is a good idea to get title insurance or not is up to you. It is like any insurance: you get it to cover a loss that you would not want to cover yourself, but you always hope that you never actually need it. So, how sure are you that the title is clear? Could you afford the loss of the boat if it turns out that the title is NOT clear? If the answer to the second question is "absolutely not" then (unless the answer to the first question is "100% certain") you had probably better get the insurance.

In any case, while a boat being repossessed 10+ years later is not a common thing, I'm sure this is not the first time it has happened.
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Old 04-03-2015, 06:57   #7
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Re: Question about a repossession

Quote:
Originally Posted by koawm View Post
So I read about a man in BVI...
Where did you read it? Are you sure the information in the article is correct? The use of the term "repossession" relates to a financial institution taking back an object that was either used as collateral or rented or leased. They boat may have been seized by federal agents but I doubt it would be the result of civil action.

If it's true that federal agents took possession of the boat, as far as I know then it was not a result of a loan or title issue. Federal seizure applies to the proceeds or instruments of a crime.
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:47   #8
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Re: Question about a repossession

I also find with stories like this that one party often leaves out a few key self-serving details.
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Old 04-03-2015, 08:52   #9
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Re: Question about a repossession

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Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
Where did you read it? Are you sure the information in the article is correct? The use of the term "repossession" relates to a financial institution taking back an object that was either used as collateral or rented or leased. They boat may have been seized by federal agents but I doubt it would be the result of civil action.

If it's true that federal agents took possession of the boat, as far as I know then it was not a result of a loan or title issue. Federal seizure applies to the proceeds or instruments of a crime.
Yeah, never heard of Feds being involved in a boat repo. A repo is a contractual dispute...not the Feds problem. As you say that's a siezure not a repo.

Another factor that points to the likelyhood there are some key facts missing from this story.
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Old 04-03-2015, 09:51   #10
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Re: Question about a repossession

I do believe US marshals enforce liens on CG doc vessels.
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Old 04-03-2015, 09:54   #11
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Question about a repossession

I'm aware of a US Federal Marshall who was actively looking for a boat that had been moved from Florida to the USVI and boat payments had not been made in a long time. My understanding was the moving of the vessel from FL to the USVI without permission from the lender and then not making payments raised it to a level in which the Marshalls get involved. The boat owner ran it into an Island while down below entertaining a young lady. The USCG investigating the accident discovered a warrant and the Marshalls came to make the arrest and seize the vessel. While the boat was on the hard it had numerous warning stickers on it about not boarding and being in the possession of the US Fed Marshall's service. Technically it may not have been a repo but they did indeed take possession of it.


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Old 04-03-2015, 10:38   #12
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Re: Question about a repossession

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suijin View Post
Where did you read it? Are you sure the information in the article is correct? The use of the term "repossession" relates to a financial institution taking back an object that was either used as collateral or rented or leased. They boat may have been seized by federal agents but I doubt it would be the result of civil action.

If it's true that federal agents took possession of the boat, as far as I know then it was not a result of a loan or title issue. Federal seizure applies to the proceeds or instruments of a crime.
Not exactly correct. It could have been part of a Bankruptcy hearing. But since the OP said it was because of a claim by the BO children I would suspect it was a matter of an estate dispute. Both cases would be dealt with in a Federal Court therefore the Court could direct Federal police agencies to locate and seize at the Courts direction. Don't forget another problem in buying a boat is the IRS. If the boat was gifted from say a super fund or some other saving account not in compliance with IRS laws than the IRS may be able to make a claim against the asset. This scenario is not very common.

Unless in the case of theft I would say that given a fair faith transaction the new buyer would have property rights that he/she can claim. The right to enforce your property rights is fundamental in law governed society otherwise there could be no real faith in the transfer of any property of value. If I were the BO I would be hiring a good lawyer and if possible counter suing for wrongful seizure and forfeiture. IMHO
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Old 04-03-2015, 10:44   #13
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Re: Question about a repossession

We're all commenting on something the OP claims to have read but has not provided any reference to. Essentially this information is of the quality level of "my friend's neighbour's sister said someone told them about this case where....."
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Old 04-03-2015, 11:09   #14
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Re: Question about a repossession

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Originally Posted by Mistress Sirena View Post
I do believe US marshals enforce liens on CG doc vessels.
In the BVI? (with emphasis on the B)

I don't know anything at all about any of this. Hence my curiosity of 'federal agents' doing something in the BVI. "Federal" leads me to think US, not British.

Having the boat US documented (as opposed to state registered) does indeed help with a lien, as I think (not know, but think) a lien must be registered with the USCG.
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Old 04-03-2015, 14:00   #15
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Re: Question about a repossession

Sounds like a case of heirs property. Disposition of the boat was not probated upon an owners death.
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