Car Repossession Laws in Pennsylvania

When someone’s vehicle is repossessed, they are usually facing other financial difficulties. Losing your primary mode of transportation could make it impossible to deal with your other economic problems. Below we look at Pennsylvania repossession law and how it could impact your life.

At Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane, we understand that debt can quickly grow and overwhelm the most hard-working individual. Our Pennsylvania bankruptcy lawyers are here to provide you with some relief. Bankruptcy might appear to be a scary word, but it is a powerful tool.

When your car is repossessed, you are not only losing a vehicle, but you could also be a party to another collection lawsuit that you cannot afford. We want to help you through this difficult time. Call (215) 701-6519 to talk with an experienced lawyer about your options and legal rights.

When Can Your Vehicle Be Repossessed in Pennsylvania?

When you purchase a car or any other type of vehicle under an agreement where the property itself is used as collateral to secure the loan, it could be repossessed if you fail to honor the contract terms. In nearly every case, one late payment could put your vehicle in jeopardy. The lender’s rights will be spelled out in the provisions of the loan agreement.

While most repossessions in Pennsylvania are cars or trucks, any vehicle encumbered with a loan could be repossessed. For example, a lender could repossess a motorcycle, ATV, boat, and even a private airplane if you miss or are late on a payment.

Limitations of Repossession Activities in Pennsylvania

Repossession companies in Pennsylvania have generous rights to take your vehicle. Unlike many other collection actions, your lender is not required to provide you notice of their intent to repossess your vehicle or seek permission to do so from a court. However, there are limitations on where and how they can repossess your car or truck.

Repossession agents are not permitted to breach the peace. This means they are prohibited from using violence or threats to repossess your vehicle. They are also not allowed to enter your home if invited. This includes entering a locked garage or fenced-in parking area on your property. However, if your car is in the driveway with public access or on the street, they are permitted to take it as long as they do not damage the car or your property.

Retrieving Your Vehicle From a Repossession Agency After it Was Taken in Pennsylvania

Once your vehicle is repossessed, the lender is required to mail you notice that the repossessed occurred. Additionally, the notice must include information regarding your right to redeem the vehicle and list the outstanding balance, fees, and issues that must be satisfied. The notice should also set a deadline for when you should take action before the vehicle is auctioned. Depending on the specific contract provisions, you might be required to pay the full balance on the loan before you have the right to retrieve your vehicle. If your car has been repossessed or if you fear it will be shortly, contact our Philadelphia bankruptcy lawyers.

What About My Personal Belongings Left in a Repossessed Vehicle in Pennsylvania?

The notice you receive after your car is repossessed will also contain information on who to retrieve any personal items you left in the vehicle. Under Pennsylvania law, the repossession company is allowed to charge you to store your items. If you are behind on your car or truck payments, our Allentown bankruptcy lawyers advise against leaving personal items in the vehicle.

If the repossession company does not allow you to retrieve your items, you could have grounds for legal action.

What Happens to a Repossessed Vehicle in Pennsylvania?

If you do not take any action to redeem your vehicle after it was repossessed, your lender has the right to sell it at an auction. You should be provided with the time and date of the proposed sale. Once the car or truck is sold, you will be notified of the sales price.

Legally, you are still obligated to pay the remaining balance on the loan if the sale fails to satisfy the full amount. In nearly every case, the vehicle will sell for substantially less than is owed. Your lender could file a lawsuit to collect any deficiency. If this occurs, you should contact our Bucks County bankruptcy lawyers to determine if you have any valid defenses or counterclaims.

Bankruptcy and Repossessed Vehicles in Pennsylvania

Bankruptcy is a tool you could use to stop a repossession, stop a vehicle from being sold, or discharging a loan balance if your car was auctioned. If you are behind on your car payments, filing for bankruptcy will stop a lender from taking your car – at least for a little while. A Chapter 7 case might by you some time and allow you to discharge the remaining loan balance if your car is repossessed and sold. However, outside of paying the delinquent balance, there is no mechanism to save your car.

A Chapter 13 case is different. When someone files Chapter 13, they reorganize their debt, including their car payments. Depending on your situation, it might be beneficial to pay your entire vehicle loan through your bankruptcy plan. In other cases, a debtor would continue to pay their regular car payments to their lender and only pay what they are behind through their plan. Our experienced West Chester bankruptcy lawyers will guide you through the process so you understand the pros and cons of each type of bankruptcy.

Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Lawyers Available to Help You With a Vehicle Repossession

Having a car or truck repossessed is more than a financial setback. It could disrupt your ability to work or take care of your family. There are steps you could take before and after your vehicle is repossessed. To understand your available options, call our Springfield, PA bankruptcy lawyers at (215) 701-6519. The attorneys and staff at Young, Marr, Mallis & Deane are here to assist you.