Borrowing money to purchase a car is not the same as outright owning it. While you do get to drive the vehicle, you must keep up with the loan payments to maintain ownership. If you fall behind, you might wind up with the creditor or debt collector repossessing your car.
Your vehicle is one of the most significant investments you will ever make. Not only are cars often expensive, but they are alsovital for getting to and from work, going to the store, and transporting your loved ones. Car repossession can pose severe obstacles to your future financial and personal success.
Repossession can occur suddenly; luckily, there are ways to fight back and reclaim your car. If you find yourself in need of legal counsel, find a trustworthy attorney who can assist you in stopping the repossession process.
Know Your Rights Against Repossession in Tennessee
The first step to fighting repossession is to know the procedures that go along with it. Your creditors and debt collectors must follow prescribed protocols. Showing they acted negligently can help you get your car back, and may even result in some monetary compensation. Here are some fundamental rights you have to protect you against repossession:
- The “Repo Man” Cannot Break into Your Property– This one is relatively self-explanatory. The repo man cannot get your vehicle if it is inside a locked garage; that would be breaking and entering.
- You Must Receive Notice– Tennessee state law requires that the creditor sends you notice of your vehicle’s repossession. Typically, this comes in the form of a 10-day letter, which should include how much money you owe as well as any fees and costs associated with repossession.
- No Police Involvement Allowed– The police cannot aid repo men in finding or seizing vehicles. This rule is designed to prevent the repo man from leveraging the local Knoxville police force to intimate debtors. A police officer may passively observe repossession, but active involvement is off-limits.
- You Made Accepted or Completed Payments– Repossession sometimes happens when it shouldn’t have. For instance, you may have paid off the vehicle in full or had late payments accepted, yet still had your car taken from you. While this is uncommon, it is possible that the process was done erroneously.
- Other Rights You Have– Tennessee law does not allow a repo man to breach the peace during repossession; they cannot be unruly or intentionally disruptive to the public. They are also not allowed to damage your car, force you to stop driving, threaten legal action, or use force to take the vehicle.
Filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Filing for bankruptcy can allow you to maintain possession of your vehicle. In Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can reaffirm your loan and make any pending or overdue payments. This option is ideal if you have the income available to make the necessary payments immediately.
The second option under Chapter 7 is called “redemption.” This situation allows you to pay for the car outright using the book value instead of the loan amount. For instance, if your car loan is $15,000, but the vehicle is only worth $5,000 today, you would pay $5,000 to the creditor.
If you cannot make the immediate payments for Chapter 7, Chapter 13 allows you to create a repayment plan. If your car is under 2.5 years old, you will have to pay off the full loan. If it is older, you can utilize a similar scenario to “redemption” and pay the book value instead.
Buying Back Your Car at Auction
Just because the repo man took your car does not mean it is gone forever. Once they have collected the vehicle, the creditor will either keep or sell it. If they do decide to sell the car, you will receive notice from the creditor about when and where the public auction is going to happen.
The auction provides the opportunity to buy back your car. If it is set far enough ahead, you may have time to gather the necessary funding for the purchase. In this scenario, you will also have to pay for any expenses related to the repossession.
Learn More About Repossession
It is hard to overstate how integral a car is to modern life, and how devastating losing possession of one can be. Don’t let creditors, repo men, or debt collectors trample your rights during the repossession process. Get Knoxville Bankruptcy Attorney on your side.
Our repossession attorneys have helped people in Knoxville, TN, reclaim their vehicles. Thanks to their extensive expertise and industry insight, they are ideally positioned to advocate for your rights and ensure the best possible outcome. Learn more about your options with repossession by scheduling a meeting at 865-276-8109 today.