Quick Guide to the PPSR
- May 10, 2018
What is the PPSR?
The Personal Properties Security Register, or PPSR, is the official, online database of secured property in Australia. It is the only register of its kind and is the one-stop-shop for checking security registered private property.
Any businesses with a security interest in a property can register with the PPSR to officially designate themselves as having certain legal rights to that property. The most common example and the one most relevant to us is of a lender who accepts a vehicle as collateral on a loan.
How can you use the PPSR?
The PPSR can be used in one of two ways:
• A business can use the PPSR to register their interest in a property.
• A person can check the PPSR prior to purchasing a car, boat, or other property to make sure it’s not financially encumbered.
For our purposes, we’re only interested in the second option.
Checking a registered motor vehicle on the PPSR will give you access to a detailed history report of that vehicle. This report will include information such as financial encumbrance, manufacturing details, any insurance claims or write-offs made against it, and more (see below).
To actually perform a check on the PPSR is very simple. Simply type either the vehicle’s registration number or VIN (see “How to find a car’s VIN”, below) into the search bar at the top of any page on this website, hit “search”, pay the nominal fee, and receive the report in seconds. It’s that simple.
Why should I check the PPSR?
It’s best to check the PPSR when purchasing a used vehicle, particularly if you’re purchasing it from an independent seller and not a dealer.
The PPSR report will include the following information:
• Car manufacturing history including make, model, and manufacturing year.
• The car’s engine number.
• Whether the vehicle is financially encumbered in a loan.
• Whether the car has ever been declared written off.
• Whether the car has ever been declared stolen.
All of this information will help you make an informed decision about whether to purchase a used vehicle. Dodgy backyard car sales can often leave people buying a car that’s not fully paid off, or was declared a write-off, or even sometimes stolen. A quick, cheap PPSR check will protect you against this.
What does it mean if the vehicle is encumbered?
If a car has been used as collateral as part of a loan and that loan is not yet paid off, the vehicle is said to be encumbered. What this means is that the business that controls the loan — a lending agent, for example — is legally entitled to reclaim the vehicle should the owner default on their payments or not meet their obligations.
An encumbered vehicle can be reclaimed regardless of who is in possession of the vehicle. If the original owner who got the loan sells the vehicle to someone else and then defaults on their payments, the lending agent can reclaim the vehicle from the new owner.
You purchase a used vehicle from Greg. The car is financially encumbered to Bob’s Loans. Greg defaults on his loan repayments, so Bob’s Loans takes the car from you as collateral.
This is why it’s so important to check the PPSR prior to purchasing a used vehicle. There’s no point spending the time, money, and effort into finding a buying a car only to have it taken away from you.