Laws That Pertain to the Actual Act of Repossession of a Car

by Jen Davis

Laws regarding vehicle repossessions vary from state to state, although some basic tenets exist in all repossession laws. While lenders legally may repossess vehicles from buyers who violate their loan contract, buyers also have rights regarding their personal property. The limits to what actions a repossession company may take to seize a vehicle vary by location, but there are some standard elements in most repossession laws.

Peaceful Repossession

All legally allowed repossessions are required to be peaceful, regardless of where the vehicle is located. Repo companies and their employees are not permitted to use any kind of force or threaten to cause you physical harm in order to repossess a vehicle, regardless of how late the payments are. The reverse is also true. It is illegal to cause physical harm to a person who is repossessing your vehicle at the behest of the lien holder.

Property Damage

Repossession companies are allowed to come onto your property to seize the vehicle, but they are not allowed to damage your property. For example, during a repossession, if the tow truck driver runs over your fence or causes any kind of damage to your property, the company can be held liable for the repairs.

Breaking and Entering

Repossession companies can take your car from your driveway, your place of employment or even a shopping center. However, they cannot open a locked garage to take your car. If your vehicle is locked inside a closed building, the repossession company cannot cut the lock to get to it, as this would be considered property damage.

Personal Property

Creditors and repossession company employees are not allowed to keep or sell any personal property you left in the vehicle. However, any personal belongings that are in your vehicle when it's towed away may be thrown out when the vehicle is cleaned out.

About the Author

Jen Davis has been writing since 2004. She has served as a newspaper reporter and her freelance articles have appeared in magazines such as "Horses Incorporated," "The Paisley Pony" and "Alabama Living." Davis earned her Bachelor of Arts in communication with a concentration in journalism from Berry College in Rome, Ga.

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