There is currently over $1.2 trillion dollars of outstanding automobile debt in the US. Many economists are anticipating an upcoming bubble similar to the subprime mortgage crisis that hit in 2009. With more than $23 billion in vehicle loans that are at least 30 days old, the current rate of pending default is higher than it has ever been.
Under Florida law and depending on the contract you signed, if you are as little as 30 days past due on your car payment you may be subject to having it repossessed without any notice. This includes situations where your debt just got out of hand and you can no longer afford your car payment or an unscrupulous dealer approved you for a car loan that was beyond your means to keep up with.
Statistics About Repossession
Statistically 9 out of 10 adults use their cars for transportation to and from work. Having your car repossessed or the threat of repossession is extremely stressful. Unfortunately there is no formal judicial process required to repossess a car in Florida, as well as no legal requirement that you have to be notified prior to your car being repossessed. Nevertheless, there are several laws that need to be adhered to, which are often broken, as well as several options available to you if your car has been repossessed.
Automobile repossessions in Fort Lauderdale often occur unlawfully and our team of attorneys are well versed in all the laws pertaining to it.
Some of the laws that are frequently broken while carrying out a repossession include:
Any individual that performs repossession services in Florida must have the proper licensing to do so. Licensing may be denied due to criminal history, mental illness, or the inability to show good moral character. Frequently the people who are conducting the repossessions, especially in such a hotbed for automobile repossessions in Fort Lauderdale and Miami, either lack the proper licensing requirements or have had their licenses expired. At Loan Lawyers, our Fort Lauderdale auto repossession lawyers have seen all types of red flags when looking into the backgrounds of recovery agents.
In addition to the Recovery Agent, the Recovering Agency that they work for also must maintain valid licensing with the state of Florida.
Breach of the Peace
Licensed recovery agents are lawfully permitted to repossess automobiles only provided that there is no breach of the peace. Countless stories abound of rogue repo men that have threatened harm, used violence, broken personal property, repossessed cars with children still inside, and even killed people in the process of repossessions. Recovery agents are forbidden from carrying a firearm while carrying out a repossession, even if they have a license to do so, and in the event of a confrontation, they are required to retreat.
All personal property must be completely and accurately accounted for, and within 5 working days after repossession, the debtor must be provided with written notice of the location of their personal items as well as the procedure for claiming them. Furthermore, the debtor must be notified by mail (with proof of mailing or certified mail) of the intent to dispose of their property at least 45 days prior to the disposing of personal property.
Notification of Sale
At least 10 days prior to the sale the lender shall notify the borrower of the date, time and place of the sale, as well as provide them with a written accounting of amount due on the loan. The lender must permit the borrower to pay whatever is due and redeem the vehicle prior to its being sold. Furthermore, the borrower is allowed to purchase the vehicle at the sale.
Commercially Reasonable Sale
Since the borrower is ultimately liable for the amount due on the loan it is forbidden for the lender to sell the vehicle at a price that is unreasonable or far below market value. At times repossessed cars are sold at rigged auctions where the prices paid are substantially lower than what the car is really worth, resulting in the buyer being stuck with a deficiency judgment for the difference in the amount owed. This practice is commonplace and illegal.
In the event that the vehicle winds up getting sold for more than what the borrower owes, all of the additional proceeds must be returned to the borrower within 30 days of the sale.
In addition to the above, it is not uncommon that the purported car lender is no longer entitled to enforce the loan. Just like the subprime mortgage crisis in 2009, almost every single auto loan in the US has been securitized, packaged and sold off on the secondary market. Therefore the people that are repossessing your car may not be entitled to do so.
Contact Our Fort Lauderdale Auto Repossession Attorneys
Contact us and speak with our Fort Lauderdale car repossession attorneys if you feel your car was repossessed unlawfully. Our automobile repossession lawyers in Fort Lauderdale have the skills and experience to help you get your vehicle back.
What makes Loan Lawyers unique amongst the majority of consumer law firms is that where others will often rush to put their clients in bankruptcy, we use bankruptcy strategically and only as a last resort. In fact, we have been able to help thousands of clients with debt relief, and even recover money due to violations of state and federal law, without the need to file bankruptcy.
If you have fallen behind on your car payments and are worried about your car being repossessed or if your car has already been repossessed call Loan Lawyers today at (844) 344-4813 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced attorneys to find out what your rights are and how we may be able to help you. We serve clients throughout Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Palm Beach, and all of South Florida.