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In the “no good deed goes unpunished” category … Here’s the back story, and I’m in California. Over a year ago, a man who lived down the road whom I have never met or spoken to lost his job and eventually lost his house to foreclosure. My next-door neighbor knew the family, and he asked me if they could park their pickup truck in the empty half of my carport for a few weeks while they went to live with family in a neighboring state. They were driving a moving truck with all their stuff in it and couldn’t take this truck along.

So I said it would be OK if they left it here for a few weeks. Meanwhile, my neighbor has the keys and has been corresponding with the guy, who kept emailing that he’d be back any day now, even giving specific dates he never followed through on. After several months of excuses why he couldn’t make it, he told my neighbor they’d now moved across the country to Florida to live with a different relative.

At this point, my neighbor wrote him jokingly that he was going to part out the truck. The guy emailed back to go ahead, that was a great idea, and he’d split the money with him. So my neighbor asked him to send him the title so he could sell the truck or part it out, but the man replied that he no longer had the title … he’d given it for collateral when they were having money problems, but he didn’t remember the name of the place he gave it to. And since he signed the title over to some other place, neither my neighbor nor I can do anything with the vehicle legally, such as part it out, take it to a junkyard, or donate it.
[Rest of story after the jump.]

My neighbor then told me he’d talked to someone who knows someone who works at the DMV, who said he’d have to pay hundreds of dollars to file some paperwork to have it removed, since there’s no title. At that point, the house under foreclosure was still up for sale, so I suggested that he drop it off in the driveway of the guy’s house, since the bank or mortgage company probably still had contact with the guy and might have more luck pressuring him to do something about it. But he felt uncomfortable about that idea, so it still sits in my carport.

Recently it hit me that a whole year had gone by, and it started to really bother me that it’s still sitting there. Even worse, I heard a lot of racket a couple weeks ago and went out to find my neighbor removing the wheels. He looked up at me, grinning, and said it dawned on him that the wheels and tires on this truck were a lot better than the ones on his own. This was getting worse and worse! I was horrified at the thought of it sitting there wheel-less and said to him, “Look, it’s been over a year now and you have got to get this truck out of here, one way or another, within the next few weeks.” To try to light a fire under him, I told him my annual rental inspection is coming up soon, and my lease says I’m only supposed to have one vehicle. Last year, I told the property manager a friend was parking the truck here for just a few weeks and I don’t want it to still be sitting here when they come back a year later.

About two weeks have now gone by since this conversation, and nothing has happened except for one day last week when my neighbor saw me outside and started trying to finagle. “You know, it’s really a good thing for you to have this truck parked in your carport, because this way when you go away, people will think someone is home and won’t try to break into your house.” And “Surely it can’t be against your lease to have two vehicles. A lot of people have two vehicles.” I held firm and said it really bothers me to have an abandoned vehicle on my property, especially now that it’s been over a year, and I want it gone. But still it sits there and he’s been nowhere near it. (And the registration and plates are now expired too.)

Several people have told me I should call the police, but the people next door have been really kind, helpful, nice people for the six years I’ve lived here, and I hate to get the police involved and risk losing the good relationship I have with them. And I live alone and have horrible neighbors on the other side, so these are the only ones I can turn to for help carrying heavy stuff, watering my garden while I’m away, etc., and they even gave me a ride to the car rental place a half hour in the next town when my car died.

Does anyone have a better idea how to get rid of it without costing me money or alienating my neighbors?

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