The majority of Americans and Brits rely heavily on their vehicles. This involves driving to and from work, picking up children from school, visiting your local store for food shopping and many other day-to-day activities. It’s something we take for granted, in reality life without your car can prove to be a huge burden. If you are unable to make repayments on your car, it may become repossessed. This can also happen for failure to make car insurance repayments in certain US states.
Once you sign a purchase contract for your vehicle, the finance organisation or creditor has rights on the car until all payments are made or when the contract ends. This contract will vary from state to state but typically a failure to fulfil the contract could result in car repossession. The creditor is not under obligation to provide any advanced warning and they have the ability to take the vehicle at any time. This can be carried out without a court appearance. The creditor also has the right to make a sale of the vehicle to a third party in order to recoup losses. Often this may be done at a cut price in order for the finance company to recoup losses and use the income against your debt. You will then be liable to pay any outstanding money following the vehicle sale. This figure will be the purchase price minus any payments you made plus the amount recouped following the sale of the car.
Repossessing the Car
Depending on the state you are in, the law will vary on seizing your car. In a number of states, the finance company has the right to take the vehicle as soon as a payment is defaulted. This often comes as surprise to many car owners who go to drive the vehicle but then find out that the car has actually been repossessed.
Many creditors are more sympathetic and they will look to try and assist you based on your circumstances. It could be that they decide to provide you with a new payment plan, which meets your requirements. It’s important to get any new payments plans in writing from your creditor as a verbal agreement may not stand.
In the majority of US states, the finance company has the right to come on to your property to repossess your vehicle. This can be carried out without them having to provide you with any advanced notice. The creditor must follow guidelines when carrying out the repossession, they are not able to use any physical force or threaten to use force. They are also unable to remove the car from a garage which is closed without obtaining consent from you.
The creditor has the right to claim for any expenses incurred as additional charges following a repossession, however during the repossession if the guidelines are not met and the repo man carries out a “breach of the peace” then the creditor may be liable to pay penalties or provide compensation if there is any damage done to you or your property.
The creditor also has no rights to any of your personal possessions which are left in the vehicle following repossession. Often a repo man will provide an inventory of items which were in the vehicle when it was repossessed. Failure to recover any items can allow you to claim for them back, a lawyer may be able to assist with this process.
In certain states, creditors fit a vehicle with a device which will disable the engine rather than physically repossessing the car. This is often considered as being the same as a repossession.
Selling Your Repossessed Car
Once a car has been repossessed, the finance company has the right to sell the vehicle in order to recover losses from the loan amount. The car can be sold privately or often will end up in a public auction. This is a good place for people to buy cheap repossessed cars. In certain states, the creditor must provide you with information on what will happen with the vehicle once it has been repossessed. Certain laws also require a finance company provides you with details of the location and time of the repossessed cars for sale so that you are able to go to the auction and take part in the auction process. This gives vehicle owners the opportunity to bid for their vehicle following the repossession. Certain states operate with consumer laws which provide an owner with the ability to “reinstate” their loan by paying any defaulted payments plus any costs incurred from repossession of the vehicle. This means that you have the ability to buy back your vehicle and then continue making repayments as per the contract.
It’s important to remember that the creditor has an obligation to obtain a fair price for a vehicle once it is sold. Failure to sell a vehicle at a reasonable price can give you the opportunity to make a claim against the creditor, but they also have the right to sell it at market value, don’t expect them to get a high price. Often the price will be low as they look to make a quick sale.
Resources such as Repossessed Cars are an excellent source of advice and free information in order to help you avoid repossession. It’s important to remember that a creditor is much more likely to try and help the repossession taking place if you speak to them early on. Once the vehicle has been repossessed, it is always much harder to get them to cooperate. They may be willing to provide leniency or help you and prevent car repossession, however you can expect your credit score to be affected.