My husband's brother fixes up vehicles and uses our yard and his parents' and sister's yards to sell used cars. He does this to keep suspicion off him for not having a dealer's licence. He brags about how easy the money is, and what he does to cut corners. I'm not sure what he's doing is legal, and I hate the fact that it looks like we're living on a discount car lot. Help!
In-laws & outlaws
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Since it doesn't sound as though you're getting any kick-backs, how can your brother-in-law possibly expect you to participate in his unlawful activity?
Seriously though, your hunch is correct. Be thankful you married the right brother. What your brother-in-law is doing is illegal. In the used car world, he's known as a curber or curbsider: an unregistered dealer posing as a private seller. Unless an individual is selling their personal vehicle privately, in most provinces you must be registered as a dealer to sell vehicles for profit.
Each year, more than a million used vehicles change owners in Ontario alone. According to several studies by the Used Car Dealers Association in that province, up to a quarter of all privately advertised used cars for sale in Canada are actually being offered by curbers. A used vehicle is always buyer beware, no matter where it's purchased. A reputable dealer, however, is more likely to offer sympathy and assistance if a vehicle is found to have a major defect soon after purchase. Curbers, on the other hand, often falsify vehicle histories and turn back odometers - and they're usually nowhere to be found when a buyer discovers the vehicle is a lemon.
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There are legitimate ways of earning money in the used car business. If your brother-in-law is truly good at flipping cars, reputable dealers would surely jump at the chance to employ him as a commissioned sales person. But maybe there's a back story here. Has he got a criminal record that won't allow him to get a job with a car dealer? In any case, you need to talk to your brother-in-law. Ask if he's considered gaining employment with an established car dealer who will offer him commission. If he's really good, he could make twice as much as he does now. He would also have the benefit of an employer paying his medical and dental bills, not to mention the free use of a loaner car. A few compliments on how good he is at selling cars may be just what it takes to get him off your lot. Failing that, inviting your off-duty cop friends over for coffee might have the same effect.
Remember, you have a say about what goes on in your home. Talk to your husband. You two need to unite and tackle the problem together. Remind him that your address could be flagged in police records and databases as a location where criminal activity has taken place. Do you really want that? What if you need to use your property as collateral to obtain a loan some day?
It might also be time for a larger family meeting. Talk about it with those involved. Don't make fun of your brother-in-law or give him a hard time. Let the family know you care for him. Simply explain your concern, and find out the overwhelming feeling on this issue. Your courage to speak up may get the ball rolling. Perhaps everyone is on the same page. However, the flip side is that such a discussion may cause a division in the family, and you could end up alienated. But if you don't deal with this and something happens down the road, how will you feel? Authorities such as the Better Business Bureau will take action if they catch wind of his dealings, not to mention his "customers" will eventually be on to him - and probably even your property.
Besides, if your brother-in-law is engaged in this kind of activity, who knows what other goods he's peddling illegally. Next thing you know he may ask to put a "garden" in your basement.