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Vehicle Repossession in California

In California, if you fail to pay your car loan, a repossession agent may take your car. In fact, as soon as you miss a car payment, the lender can arrange—without notice—to repossess your vehicle. The lender also may repossess your car if you breach your loan agreement in some other way, such as by allowing your insurance to lapse. However, after the repossession, you’re entitled to a number of written notices, including one that explains how you can get the vehicle back. In addition, repossession agents in California are prohibited from doing certain things when taking your car. In this article, we examine vehicle repossession in California.  

What Repossession Agents are Permitted to Do 

In California, a lender or repossession agent can take a debtor’s vehicle from any public place, including the street, a parking lot, an unsecured driveway, or another publicly accessible area. Therefore, an employee of a repossession agency or lender may enter a place open to the public, even if it is privately owned, to repossess a vehicle. In addition, a repossession agent can repossess a debtor’s vehicle regardless of whether he or she is present at the time.

What Repossession Agents Can’t Do 

A repossession agent can’t enter a secured area or private building, such as a locked garage unless it gets permission from the owner or another person who is in lawful control of the property. A repossession agent also can’t threaten a debtor, use violence, or damage a debtor’s personal property when taking a vehicle. 

Required Notices

As noted above, a debtor in California is entitled to several written notices following the repossession of his or her vehicle, including:

  • A notice regarding the seizure
  • An inventory of the debtor’s personal effects
  • A notice explaining the debtor’s right to get the vehicle back through reinstatement or redemption

Debt Collection and Vehicle Repossession in California

In addition to repossession for failure to adhere to the terms of an agreement with an auto lender, it is possible to lose one’s vehicle in California after failing to pay an unrelated debt. For example, a debt collector—even one not directly linked to a vehicle loan—can win a court judgment, and then ask a sheriff to take a person’s vehicle to pay the judgment. Therefore, whether you’ve failed to pay an auto loan or have been sued by a debt collector, it is imperative to seek legal guidance as soon as possible to avoid losing your vehicle. 

Contact a California Debt Collection Lawsuit Defense Attorney 

If you have been sued by a debt collector in California or have lost your vehicle due to repossession, you need a California debt collection lawsuit defense attorney on your side. At the Fullman Firm, our experienced debt collection lawsuit attorneys are passionate about fighting for the rights of consumers. When you come to us for assistance, we will do everything possible to ensure that your case has a successful outcome. Please contact us to schedule a consultation.