Are Repo Companies Allowed on Private Property in Pennsylvania?
Once you have fallen behind on a car, truck, motorcycle, or even a boat payment, your lender has the right to repossess the collateral. They are not required to give you notice that they intend to take your vehicle. However, there are limitations on the actions a repossession company can take to retrieve an encumbered car. While they are permitted to take the vehicle from your private property, such as a driveway, they are not permitted to enter a locked garage or any other secured portion of your property.
Your vehicle could be repossessed if it is on the street or another public place, such as a parking lot. If you think your car is about to be repossessed or are struggling with other debt, contact Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane to speak with one of our experienced Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyers.
Losing your vehicle to repossession could upend your life. People rely on their cars for work, transporting their children to school, or running daily errands. If you wake up one morning and find your car gone, it could cripple your ability to provide for your family Call (215) 701-6519 if you are struggling with car payments.
Repossession in Pennsylvania
Your motor vehicle could be repossessed if you default on a loan agreement, such as failing to make a monthly payment. There is no technical grace period in Pennsylvania. If you miss one payment, even if it is one day late, your lender has the legal right to repossess your car if they have a security interest in the vehicle.
Once your car is repossessed, the lender must send you a notice that officially informs you that the repossession has occurred. The notice should include information regarding your rights to reinstate the contract, the remaining loan balance, where the vehicle was taken, and a reminder that you have approximately thirty days to collect any personal items left in the vehicle.
The bank or lender has the option to sell the vehicle at a private or public sale. No matter what direction is chosen, the borrower must be provided with a 15-day notice of the sale date, along with the time and place of the sale.
Breaching the Peace During a Pennsylvania Repossession
A repossession can occur on your private property as long as the repo company does not enter any locked or secured area, such as a garage or fenced-in area. Additionally, if you see a repossession about to take place, whether the vehicle is on your driveway or parked on the street, you have the right to tell whoever is attempting to take your car to leave. If the person refuses to leave and proceeds with the repossession, this is a breach of the peace.
An individual attempting to repossess a vehicle cannot enter an enclosed building or property without your consent, threaten you with violence or force, damage your property or vehicle, call the police, falsely assert they have a court order, or physically engage with you. Additionally, they are not permitted to publicly announce your vehicle is being repossessed to your neighbors.
Any of this conduct could be used to file a case against the repossession company and the lender – even if you were behind on your payments.
You do have the right to volumetrically surrender your vehicle to avoid some legal expenses. However, if you decide on this direction, you will lose your car and will still be obligated to pay any deficiency balance due on your loan after the vehicle was sold. Unfortunately, some lenders will offer promises they have no intention of keeping to make it easier to gain possession of your car. If your lender or the repossession company promises any incitive, ensure you have it in writing.
Bankruptcy and Repossession in Pennsylvania
If your car was repossessed or if you are behind on your payments, our Bucks County bankruptcy attorneys could help you. There is no one answer for every person’s financial woes. However, bankruptcy offers options that could fit your needs.
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy
For some individuals, their monthly car payments might have become unmanageable. Avoiding a repossession might be impossible. However, by filing a Chapter 7 case, you could provide yourself with some necessary relief. If you are behind on your car payment and fear repossession, Chapter 7 will prohibit your lender from taking your car – for a limited time.
Your lender will have to file a motion with the court requesting permission to repossess your car. This could give you time to make other arrangements and alleviate the worry of waking up one morning finding your car gone. You will also discharge any further obligation you have under the original loan.
If your car was already repossessed, you could discharge any remaining deficiency balance through a Chapter 7 case.
Chapter 13 Bankruptcy
Some people who have fallen behind on their car loan have the money to make monthly payments – they just lack sufficient funds to bring their loan current. When you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy case, you are actually restructuring your debt. This means you could pay the money you are behind through a bankruptcy plan while paying your regular monthly payment going forward. Talk with one of our skilled Pennsylvania Chapter 13 bankruptcy attorneys to determine if this is the right option for you.
Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Attorneys Offering Decades of Experience
Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane has decades of combined legal experience and knowledge. Individuals, couples, and businesses in financial distress can rely on our Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyers to guide them through this difficult period. Call (215) 701-6519 to see how we can help you.