Responsibility after the purchase 


I sold my car six months ago and I am getting new parking and infringement notices. Do I have to pay them?
My car's been repossessed because the previous owner had used it as security.  What do I do?
I signed the car purchase agreement without reading it properly. How can I get out of it as I can’t afford the payments?


I sold my car six months ago and I am getting new parking and infringement notices. Do I have to pay them?

Nobody likes getting a ticket, especially if you no longer own the car in question. If you are getting tickets for a vehicle that you have sold, it probably means that the change of ownership procedure was not completed.

When you sell a car, both the buyer and the seller have separate responsibilities regarding change of ownership of the vehicle but it is the seller’s responsibility to make sure that the change of ownership was completed by the buyer. If you sell your car and the change of ownership procedure is not completed, you can be held liable for the new owner’s infringement notices, including speeding fines. 

If you are sure the change of ownership was completed, then you should contact the NZ Transport Authority (NZTA) on 0800 108 809.


My car's been repossessed because the previous owner had used it as security for a loan.  What can I do?

If you have bought a vehicle privately, and it has been used as security for a loan or purchased using finance that has not been repaid, then the lending company has the right to claim ownership and repossess the vehicle. If this has happened to you, you can take the previous owner to the Disputes Tribunal  under the Sale of Goods Act to try to get a refund. However if the previous owner wasn’t able to make the payments on the car in the first place, they may not be able to repay you either.

If you bought the car from a registered dealer and it said on your Consumer Information Notice that “there is a security interest registered over this motor vehicle”, then it can be taken from you. It is the dealer’s responsibility to ensure the information on the notice is correct. If the CIN did not have this statement on it, the car cannot be repossessed from you and the finance company would have to recover their money from the dealer.

Before you buy a vehicle privately, it’s important to check whether it has any security interest on it. You can do this by checking the Personal Property Securities Register (PPSR).


I signed the car finance agreement without reading it properly. How can I get out of it as I can’t afford the payments?

You should always read a  contract and make sure you understand it and agree with it, before signing it.

When you buy a car on finance, you have two contracts to sign: one is for the purchase of the car, between you and the car dealer; the other is the credit contract between you and the finance company. After you sign the credit contract, you should receive a disclosure document, which states things like the name and address of the finance company, how much money you’ll owe, how the interest is calculated and details of other credit fees.

If you haven’t taken the car home yet, then once you have signed a credit contract you have a few days in which you change can your mind about the credit contract and the purchase. This is called a cooling off period:

  • Three working days from the day you receive the disclosure documents if you received them in person
  • Five working days from the day you receive the disclosure documents if you received them by post

If you have taken the car home, you can cancel the finance contract within three days of signing it, but you would still be required to pay for the car and would have to do so within 15 working days of having signed the agreement to purchase.

Any time after you have signed the finance agreement, if you realise you can't keep up your payments due to something unexpected happening ( e.g. illness, injury or losing your job) but you are up-to-date with your payments, then you have the right to make a ‘hardship’ application to the finance company under the hardship provisions of the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act. You may be able to negotiate with the finance company for an extension of the loan period or to postpone your repayments for a short while.

As long as you are up to date with the payments, you may be able to take a payment holiday, i.e. a break from payments until you can afford them again, or pay smaller amounts of money over a longer amount of time. You would need to talk to the finance company to negotiate this.

It’s a good idea before you sign up to a finance agreement, to take a copy to your local CAB, Community Law Centre, or other knowledgeable person you can trust for a second opinion. The Ministry of Consumer Affairs has a TrueCost checklist of questions you should ask the dealer about the finance deal, so you can find out about all the costs involved. You can do some research to find out whether you can get a cheaper loan through a bank, credit union or different finance company.

It is always best to budget for your repayments before entering into an agreement. Several services are available for this, which your CAB can tell you about. For more information, see the Ministry of Consumer Affairs site about what to do if you buy a car on credit and have problems keeping up with the payments,  our section on budgeting and the Ministry of Consumer Affairs’ information on credit issues.

If you are worried about not being able to keep up your payments you can call the Consumer Affairs’ Loan Complaints line (0800 56 26 787) for free advice.