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Automotive repossession: The legal steps required

A bank that loans you money to buy an automobile can repossess your car if you fail to make your loan payments. That said, the bank needs to carry out the repossession in a legally appropriate fashion. In general, the repossession of your vehicle will be governed by state law and the lease or loan agreement; however, in most cases, the steps required are very similar.

Once you have failed to meet the terms of your lease or loan agreement, and the conditions required for repossession have been met, the bank can begin the repossession process. In some cases, a bank can repossess your vehicle after you just miss one payment. It doesn't matter where you've parked your car, and you don't have to give permission. The bank could send a representative in the middle of the night to tow your car away when you're not even aware of what's happening.

The repo man who comes to take your car might seem scary, but this person is legally obliged not to threaten you or use physical force against you in any way. Doing so would be deemed a "breach of the peace," and fines against the repo man could result.

After your car has been repossessed, the bank can sell your vehicle to someone else in its effort to pay off the remaining balance of your loan. You may have the chance to reinstate your loan by paying off your back-payments before the sale occurs. You also have the right to get your personal items back if you left any inside the vehicle at the time of the repossession.

Are you facing the threat of a vehicle repossession? You may be able to stop the process by filing for bankruptcy or taking other types of legal action. Ultimately, the facts surrounding your situation will dictate the most appropriate legal response.

Source: FindLaw, "Legal Steps Needed to Repossess a Car," accessed Dec. 29, 2017

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