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Should I Refund the Car Deposit with Verbal Agreement

Discussion in 'Small Claims & Municipal Court' started by cy1315, Dec 16, 2017.

  1. cy1315

    cy1315 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi everyone, I am wondering if I have to return $1000 deposit back to the buyer for an used car. A buyer gives me $1000 and then he took the car to auto repair shop for diagnosis and said my car could not have passed the smog check, which I already passed it at the certified smog check station and renewed the registration. He did not want it anymore after the diagnosis and I was gonna return his deposit back, but I found my car has engine light on so I refused to give him back the deposit and I blocked him contact because he threatened me he would file police report if I dont return. One month later I received the small claims lawsuit from him. I checked the califonian law and realized that my text messages saying I would return her deposit could be an verbal agreement binding by law. However, I did not know that my car has engine light on at the time when I promised him that I would return the deposit. Could this reason put the verbal agreement into unenforceable? I have a witness(middleperson between me and the buyer) who can prove that the car has engine light on after he took it to auto repair shop.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You've been sued.
    Not much you can do now but show up in court and defend.
    Frankly, I see no defense.
    The engine light means nothing.
    You can't prove it appeared after your mark, err buyer, had the car checked.
    This is your word against his.
    However, if I recall correctly, any used car a person sells in your state must pass smog.
    If the car can't pass the smog check, the seller is required to return the mark, err buyer, his or her money.

    Too late for that now, he's sued you.


    If the vehicle is over 4 years old, it is the seller's responsibility to provide proof of a current smog certification unless the a smog certification was submitted within the past 90 days.


    If you do sell it without a smog certification and it doesn't pass, the seller is responsible for repairing it to the smog certification standards.

    You're going to have problems, buddy.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Agree. Return the refund and avoid court. You will lose.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  4. cy1315

    cy1315 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I passed the smog check at the certified smog check station within 2 weeks and renewed the registration. I have both proof before he took the car for diagnosis.

    Even I have the smog check proof and renewed the registration? How could I win this case? We never have any contracts saying the deposit is refundable and only have text messages saying that I will return her the deposit.
     
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Unfortunately at the time of this attempted sale the car was no longer able to pass a smog test, and your potential buyer will have proof of that.
    The check engine light is not necessarily a smog related issue, but the fact that the light is on its an automatic failure.
    You don't have to return the money until a judge orders it, but if you push this to court that will likely be the result. The car and all its problems are yours until a sale is complete. You don't have justification to keep the deposit.
     
    hrforme likes this.
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    This is the third website you are on.

    The answers will be the same.

    You don't get to keep the car and the deposit.
     
  7. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    You will lose this one.... first is that you ALLOWED them to take it to a place to be checked out. You knew they were going to have it checked out. Once it was checked out...... They found reasons not to buy it. They did everything right. Now it's going to cost you the 1,000.00 plus court costs. Plus they will attach the court judgement to your credit history.
     
    army judge likes this.
  8. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    He apparently did not give you the deposit pursuant to the terms of a written agreement. Correct? What was the purpose of the deposit? Absent some other explanation, I'm going to assume it was given as security to ensure the return of your car after "he took [it] to [a] repair shop for diagnosis." I'm further assuming that the intent was that, if he returned the car and decided not to buy it, he would get the deposit back. On the other hand, if he decided to buy the car, the deposit would be credited against the purchase price. All correct?

    What was your reasoning in doing this?

    Your legal reasoning here is way off, so the question is moot. Your single text message cannot have constituted a contract.

    The better question is what possible basis do you have for not returning the deposit? If, as I suspect, the deposit was given solely as security that the guy wouldn't steal the car when he took it to the repair shop, then his return of the car to you obligated you to return the deposit. Indeed, you've all but acknowledged that this is so. Your excuse for not doing so is that the check engine light was on, but you haven't provided any explanation as to why that should justify retaining the deposit. Instead, you appear to be engaging in rank speculation that the light came on because of something the buyer did. Have you taken the car to a mechanic to ascertain why the light is on? If not, why not? If so, what did you learn? Do you have any evidence whatsoever that the buyer damaged your car in any way?

    Nothing in your post suggests any possibility that you could win. If you haven't already done so, I suggest you take the car to a mechanic to figure out why the light is on.
     
    cy1315 likes this.
  9. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure who "they" are, but this is incredibly unlikely. A civil judgment is only going to get on the judgment debtor's credit history if someone reports it, and it is unlikely that the buyer in this situation even has the ability to report it (not everyone can report a debt to the credit reporting agencies).
     
    cy1315 likes this.
  10. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    Here in Indiana ( My county) if you lose in small claims court it's reported to the credit bureau.
     

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