Auto Repossession Rules & Regulations

Written by louie doverspike
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It is a harsh reality that under certain conditions a car that has been sold, rented or leased can be taken back by the original seller. In harsh financial times repossessions are on the rise, due in large part to unemployment and reduced financial opportunity. Knowing your rights when it comes to vehicle repossession can help you maintain the best possible footing. It is important to know how to deal with both the original seller or leaser and the company that is contracted out for the purpose of car repossession.


Typically, a repossession can go forward once you have defaulted on your loan or lease. Any lease or loan contract will include a definition of what constitutes default. While there are a variety of circumstances that could initiate a repossession, the minimum is typically a single missed payment. If you have amended your contract, even through oral agreement, than the original default terms may have changed. This is why it is important to record all conversations you have held with the seller or leaser of the vehicle.


The process of repossessing your car often begins when the seller of your vehicle passes the lease or loan contract to a third party repossession agency. Law enshrines the rights of the repossessor to step foot on to your property in pursuit of a repossession. However, laws typically prevent the repossessor from disturbing the peace, which has various wordings and interpretations that depend on your state. Typically a repossessor cannot take your car if taking it would involve physical force or the threat of physical force.


Particularly if the repossession agent has interfered with your physical well being, or has in any way violating the "breach of peace" requirement, you have some legal recourse in combating a vehicular repossession. The best method of fighting a repossession is to know your rights. There are a number of requirements that the creditor must follow in repossessing your car, a violation on any single point can nullify the repossession. Holding on to your personal property from the car's interior is one illegality that often occurs. Another is the inappropriate sale of the vehicle after repossession. If the original seller wishes to sell the car to a new party, he is often required to notify you in advance, particularly in the case of an auction. The most stringent requirements involve notifications, which vary from state to state and are explained in more detail below.


In many states, the original seller or leaser is required to notify you in advance of a repossession. Check the link provided below to determine whether this is the case in your state. 24 hours of advance notice is considered standard practice in states where advance notification is required. Additional notification is required if the car's seller wishes to seek additional remuneration from you, usually through a lawsuit. Finally, if the original seller plans on selling the repossessed car at auction, he is legally obligated to give you ample opportunity to bid on the car yourself.

Further Legal Action

A creditor can often sue you for the additional balance of the debt. If the seller is unable to sell the car for a price equal to what was promised through your original contract, she can sue you for the difference. If you wish to purchase the car, the court will typically make you pay the full balance in advance plus the fees associated with the repossession. Additional legal entanglement can occur if you attempt to conceal the car from repossessors, a felony in certain states.

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