Understanding Your Rights: Navigating Illegal Vehicle Reposs

Understanding Your Rights: Navigating Illegal Vehicle Repossession in Texas

If you miss a car payment or are late in paying one, your lender has the right to repossess your vehicle according to your contract.

Life happens, and perhaps you were late sending a payment, or you’re struggling while trying to make ends meet.

However, when a lender repossesses your vehicle, they have to follow the laws. This means they are not allowed to violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act or allow the repo man to use physical force or threats to recover the vehicle.

What Is Considered an Illegal Repossession in Texas?

Illegal repossession in Texas involves breaching the peace. Here are some examples of a breach of peace in a repossession where the lender and the repo company would violate the law.

Perhaps you keep your vehicle in a secured area, protected by a gate or fence. The repo company must get permission from you to enter. Without your permission, it is considered an illegal repossession in Texas. If you park your vehicle in a private parking garage, they cannot tailgate to gain access or ask for a code to get in. Breaking locks, gates, or other entrance barriers is also forbidden. 

In some cases, repo men have tried to block a vehicle or even attach it to a tow truck while a person is inside it. This is another form of illegal repossession in Texas. They can’t make threats, use force, cause a public disturbance, purposely damage any of your property, or move other cars out of the way to get to your vehicle. All of these acts are illegal.

Anyone who has a car loan should understand that this could happen to them if they are late or miss any payments. However, you may also be the victim of unlawful repossession even if you’ve never missed a payment. You have every right to object to the repossession, which is supposed to stop the process. If the repo man continues to take the vehicle, they are breaking the law.

Behaviours a Repo Agent Is Permitted to Do While Repossessing a Vehicle

The list of behaviours allowed during a vehicle repossession is far shorter than what is illegal. Repo companies are within the law if they tow your car from a public parking area, such as an open, ungated parking lot. They can also take your car while you’re at work or when it is parked outside of your home.

If you are late on a payment that you owe for your vehicle, you should also understand that the lender and the repo company do not need to give you notice about your repossession beforehand. However, they must legally inform you that they have confiscated it after it has happened.

How Can You Get Your Vehicle Back After an Illegal Repossession?

You may be able to get your car back after an illegal repossession, but you should work with an attorney who specializes in these matters. They will help you understand your legal options and protect your rights.

You could negotiate a new payment plan with the lender or pay off the current balance of your loan. You could also have the loan reinstated and pay off the repossession costs.

In dire situations, you may be able to file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcies, but you should have a full understanding of the impacts either of these can have on your life. You may be better off selling your car before a repossession can take place, allowing you to get the money you need to pay off the loan.

It can be scary to find your vehicle is not where you parked it, especially if your private property has been violated in its removal. Make sure you learn about your rights under Texas law and how you can retrieve your vehicle if it has been repossessed. 

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