Repossession Law and Legal Definition

Repossession refers to taking back property through judicial processes, foreclosure, or self-help when a borrower fails to make required payments. Many types of property are subject to repossession when there are loans securing the property or liens on the property, such as houses, cars, and furnishings.

If your car payments are late or you default on your contract in any way, your creditor or lessor may have the right to repossess your car. Careful attention to contract terms and timely payment will avoid repossession, but a creditor may be willing to waive this right if the debtor can persuade them that payment will be made shortly.

In many states, creditors or lessors can legally repossess without going to court or warning you in advance, as long as they do not breach the peace. However, a person cannot enter private property to repossess property of a debtor without consent or a statutory or contractual right to do so. In addition, your creditor or lessor may be able to sell your contract to a third party, called an assignee, who may have the same rights and responsibilities as the original creditor or lessor.

You have the right to get the car repossessed back by paying the overdue amount, plus any fines and costs. These can be rather steep. If you can't or won't pay, the repossessor must give you notice of the auction. You can bid on your own car. If they get less than you owe as the winning bid (which is usually the case), you'll owe the rest. You are entitled to get your belongings which were inside the car back, but only within the short period of time in your contract. However, some state laws limit the ways a creditor or lessor can repossess and sell a vehicle to reduce or eliminate your debt. If any rules are violated, the creditor or lessor may be required to pay you damages.

The specific contract terms and local laws should be consulted for applicable requirements in each particular case.