Repo Nightmare: When Something Goes Wrong With Repossession
March 29, 2023
It’s the kind of story that you would never dream could happen to you: shadowy characters show up at your house at night when you’re not there, cut the bolt on your locked gate, then tow away your car.
The car they took was being purchased or leased, and you are behind on payments, so if this was all they took it would be somewhat understandable, but that’s not all this repo company was guilty of. While they were only after the leased car, they couldn’t get to it without first moving your other free-and-clear car out of the way and leaving it in the middle of the street! Here, it was side-swiped and then towed away, leaving you without two cars and with hefty towing and repair bills.
This may sound like a nightmare scenario, but car repossession incidents like this happen more often than you know. If this happens to you, you need to take action to protect yourself. Contact me at the Law Office of Jason Cline for help getting a car returned or compensation for repossession damage to property. I can help those in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as Rio Rancho, Santa Fe, Los Lunas, or anywhere throughout the state of New Mexico.
Required by Law for Repossessions
To start with, it’s completely legal for a lender to repossess a vehicle due to missed car payments. And while it’s true that most lenders will pursue other measures first to collect on past-due payments, they are within their rights to take back a car that you’re not able to pay for. If you’re concerned about this happening, you should double-check your contract to see whether there’s a provision that stipulates a grace period for missed payments. However, just because they can do this doesn’t mean there aren’t rules and limits on how they can do this.
First, repossession agents must inform the police of their intent to repossess the vehicle. It’s worth noting that they aren’t required to notify you of the repossession. Also, when conducting the repossession, agents are not permitted to “breach the peace” in taking a vehicle (and cutting through a locked gate certainly violates this rule). Agents are also not allowed to damage personal property during the repo (like pulling out your other car and leaving it in the middle of the road to be damaged by oncoming traffic). Lastly, your lender must send you full and proper notice immediately after the repossession and again after any auction or sale of the vehicle.
Just because you haven’t stayed current on your car payments doesn’t mean you throw all your rights out the window. In addition to trying to get the repossessed vehicle back, you can also pursue any damages caused by the repossession. If your goal is to get the car back, the fastest way to do this is simply to pay off the loan, but this only works if you’re able to pay it off in full in addition to any towing or storage charges. However, if your car was repossessed due to missing payments in the first place, this may not be a viable option. In that case, you may be able to have your loan reinstated which will only require you to bring your loan current.
If you don’t want the car back, you’ll still want to clear your credit report so this doesn’t show up on it. This is best done with the help of a lawyer, preferably a bankruptcy attorney who is experienced in these cases. Lastly, using the opening scenario as an example, you may wish to seek compensation for damages that the repo company inflicted.
Don’t Face Repossession Alone
If you’re in the Albuquerque, New Mexico, region and are concerned that your car will be repossessed, or it’s already happened, contact me at the Law Office of Jason Cline to discuss your options.