Car repossessed with personal belongings in it – What to do now?

Does the car lender have right to your personal property

First thing first. Is your car repossessed with personal belongings in it ? Your personal items do not belong to the lender unless specified so in the buyer’s agreement.

The repo agent should return the personal, loose items inside the vehicle during the repossession. Loose items include usual stuff generally kept in the car for day-to-day personal use. It can be the towels, the cell phone, tools, stuffed toys, loose changes, etc.

Accessories or fixtures attached to the car, which need a specific set of tools and skills to remove, are not part of personal items. The car’s financer can claim such accessories, which are then auctioned.

Examples of permanently modified fixtures are GPS, audio video accessories, Bluetooth, fog lights, modified tire rims, custom bumpers, sunroof, etc.

If there are loose items inside the vehicle, the repo man or the financer should return it.

When can the creditor repossess my car?

The creditor can repossess the vehicle once you miss a payment (even single) or haven’t insured your vehicle.

The repo man takes over the car when you are least aware. Because that allows him to operate with least amount of resistance.

But he must do it peacefully even in your presence.

He can get it away from the carpool, carport, open garage, in front of your porch.

He can use alternate keys, can hotwire the car.

The repo man has to obtain permission from the local cops before the repossession.

Car repossessed with personal belongings in it – how to get them back?

When you are undergoing a loan or hypothecation period and know that there are chances of default, be alert. Take and store videos or photos of the loose personal items that you normally keep in the car. Also, maintain a written inventory if there are costly items.

Keep the phone number of the lender handy.

In the same vein, have the numbers of local law enforcing agencies. In case the repo use intimidation or wrong methods, you can seek help.

During the act of repossession, you should ask the agent to return your goods. If he refuses or wants convenience money, call the cops.

If you find that your vehicle is towed away with things inside, contact the lender immediately. Go to where the car is garaged, and ask them to return your belongings.

If these methods fail, and you have the evidence ready, send reminders to the lender with the evidence. If the bank does not respond satisfactorily, consult with your repossession attorney. This may be one of the solid legal grounds on which the repossession may be deemed improper by the court.

Should I pay to get my personal belongings back after repossession?

Absolutely not. The lender can charge you for the repossession operation which included afternoons, towing vehicle but not for storing the personal items securely. The reason is as per law, he has rights over your vehicle which is collateral for the loan, but not loose personal items.

In simple terms, he can charge administrative expenses for the repossession process (but not any convenience fees).

What is the relation between car repossession and personal property? Can the car loan lender hold back any personal property?

The answer is an emphatic no, if not stated so in the loan agreement. Your vehicle is the collateral; however personal belongings inside the automobile do fall under “security interest.”

What to do if the creditor refuses to return my personal belongings in the car?

First, check whether the items that were inside the car are legally recoverable.

Check your loan agreement for the items that can be taken legally by the lender along with the car and those that have to be returned.

Now, comes the inevitable part. Can you prove that your personal items were taken along with the vehicle? Do you have videos or photographs of that item? Better concentrate on costly objects like cell phone which are easy to prove and track.

Send the itemized list to the bank immediately. If the bank does not respond appropriately, contact a repossession attorney.

If the bank responds, you might also collaborate with the bank to auction those items along with the vehicle, so that your “deficit amount”comes down.

This might be your chance to good the repossession.

What if the repo agent damages your car?

It’s not simple to prove that the repo agent has done it. Have a video or photograph of your vehicle with all its accessories like customized bumpers, modified tire rims, etc. If you detect damage in the car owing to repossession, take a video or photo of it. Contact the lender for compensation. However, remember that you have to convince that those damages were caused due to the rough handling during repossession.

So, find info on the type of vehicle that towed your car (rollback, standard wheel lift or self-loading).

The towing vehicle should match the damage and its location.

Take help of a mechanic to understand the contract between the towing vehicle and your car. Understand which part of your automobile can be practically damaged by that type of towing car.

The mechanic or car expert will measure the severity and damage done during repossession. Then send the demand letter to the lender and repo man. This will help you to sue or petition the state consumer protection and fight the case technically.

FAQ

  • Can a vehicle be repossessed from the personal property?

Yes, only if it does not amount to trespassing or beach of peace.

Your car can be repossessed from an open garage. The repo agent can take the car away from your garden, but cannot trespass by damaging your fence.

Also, there should be no intimidation or show of force on either side.

  • Can you call the police on the repo man?

Yes, and it should be done. The repo man needs to repossess the vehicle in the presence of police so that he is not accused of burglary. You can call the cops if you feel intimidated from the repo attend. You can also call the cops if you think the repossession its wrong.

  • Can the car be repossessed without notice?

If you fall behind in your loan repayments or have not submitted the insurance papers for your car, your financer or lender for the vehicle can repossess your car without informing the court. If your car is hypothecated, it falls under security interest. In that case, most of the states allow the act of repossession without any notice.

When you have lots of pending payments or do not insure your car, you get a/several reminders first. If the bank or finance company senses your non-cooperation regarding repayments, then they can go for repossession.

Is your car repossessed with personal belongings in the vehicle and do you need legal support ? Contact us now. 

References:

Nolo 

Consumerftc

 

 

 

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David Galler is an experienced bankruptcy attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. For the last 29 years he has filed over 10,000 bankruptcy cases. He has a FIVE STAR client rating on Avvo, Kudzu.com, RateABiz.com, and Google+, among other sites. Over 99% of all Chapter 7 cases he filed have been discharged.

1 Comment

  • Steve
    November 9, 2018 @ 5:54 pm

    Interesting article, I had no idea that a car could be repossessed without any notice. From now on I am going to take a video of all the personal belongings in my car in case I ever end up in a situation as you described. Thanks for the great information.

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