Q&A about Vehicle Repossessions

Vehicle Repossessions

When you obtain a loan to buy a vehicle, your car loan documents provide that your lender has the authority to repossess the car if you fail to make a timely payment. The contract should detail what events constitute a default, which can include a variety of events, but failure to make a payment occurs most frequently.

Below are a few the questions we commonly get from our clients regarding the seizure of their car or truck. If you have a question not covered, however, please contact one of our knowledgeable attorneys for help.

Can the original contract be modified to change my payment terms? Yes, if the lender agrees to the modification. It is imperative that you get the loan modification in writing because proving a verbal agreement is difficult.

Does the creditor send notice before my car is repossessed? In most jurisdictions, your creditor is permitted to seize the collateral pledged to it at any time after default occurs, without providing notification to you. A repossession agent is permitted to go onto your property to take the vehicle, but only if the agent can do so without breaching the peace. This means that the agent can seize the car from your driveway, but he cannot use physical force, threaten it, or enter a closed structure to seize the car without permission.

What happens if the repo agent breaches the peace? Every case is different, but the creditor may be ordered by the court to pay a penalty and/or pay for any harm caused to you or damage done to your property. Depending on the circumstances, breaching the peace may also provide a successful defense if the lender files a collection lawsuit against you seeking to recover the deficiency remaining after the vehicle has been sold.

Can I recover the personal property that is in my vehicle when it is seized? The answer to this question depends upon what state you live in. In some states, the repossession agent must give you an inventory list of all the personal items that were in your vehicle when it was seized and instructions of how you can get them back. If a creditor cannot account to you for the items that were in your car, contact us to discuss whether you can seek compensation for such items.

If you are struggling financially and you want to discuss your debt relief options and how to avoid having your vehicle repossessed, contact us today to schedule an initial consultation.

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