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Auto Repossession: Your Rights
In these tough economic times, it is important for consumers to understand their rights in the event an automobile finance company seeks to repossess your car.
What options do I have if my car is repossessed?
Depending on the terms of your finance contract or retail installment contract, a finance company could seek to repossess your vehicle after one missed payment. Typically a finance company can provide you with two options once the company picks up your car. The first option is reinstatement. If the finance company provides an opportunity for reinstatement, you will have to pay the amount that is past due plus a reasonable cost incurred with the repossession of your car. The second option is redemption. Redemption is the most common option used by automobile finance companies in Florida. Under the redemption option, you will be responsible for paying off the balance owed in order to receive your car back. Under Florida law, you have the right to redeem your property at any time before it is sold.
What will the automobile finance company do with my car?
Your automobile finance company is required to send you a notice of how it plans to dispose of your car. The finance company may sell your vehicle through a public sale (usually an auto auction) or private sale (for dealers only). Once your car is sold, the finance company will send you a notice stating the amount that your car was sold and whether there was a deficiency or surplus of funds. Although it is rare, if there is a surplus (extra money), the finance company will send you a check for the amount owed minus the amount the car was sold. If there is a deficiency (meaning the car was sold for less than the amount owed) then you will likely be sued by the finance company to collect any additional money owed.
What should I do next if my car has been repossessed?
If your car was repossessed and you have been sued by your automobile finance company, you can contact the Palm Beach County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service at (561) 687-3266. If you are over age 60 and reside in Palm Beach County, you may contact Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County's Elder Law Project at (561) 655-8944.
IMPORTANT: The information on this Website is not intended as legal advice or representation. No attorney-client relationship is created between the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc. and any person obtaining information from this website. Public benefits and other laws change frequently. We strive to keep this website up to date but cannot provide a guarantee that this information is accurate as of the time you are reading it.