Lots of people use a car loan to buy an automobile. Whenever debtors fall behind on car payments, they can be faced with the uncomfortable reality of a repossession. In Florida, repossessions are covered by various state laws that limit and regulate how they can take place. While these laws most often apply to car repossessions, they can apply to any personal property with a security interest.
In general, anyone who falls behind on car payments or otherwise violates the terms of a car loan or lease can have the vehicle repossessed. The law allows licensed recovery agents to seize the car at any time, as long as they don't violate any laws in the process. A recovery agent can't break into a garage to take a car into possession, for example, but they can take it at any time of day if it's left on the street or in a public place. Florida does not require the recovery agent or creditor to notify the debtor of a repossession before it is enacted.
Florid law also governs who can act as an agent for a creditor or repossession company. Anyone acting as a repossessor or recovery agent must be licensed by the state. The state grants various kinds of licenses: business licenses (Class R), manager licenses (Class MR), and a recovery agent license (Class E). Anyone applying for these licenses must meet the statutorily defined requirements. These include experience working as a recovery agent or intern and completing 40 hours of required coursework at a licensed training school. (Florida Statutes § 493.6401 and § 493.6403)
Once a car has been repossessed, the recovery agent has a duty to inventory any personal property found in the vehicle. If the property is not subject to the security agreement (the loan), it must be returned to the debtor. After repossession of the car or property, the recovery agency has five days to notify the debtor of the repossession in writing, giving them notice of the personal effects and where to recover them. Recovery agents can charge the debtor a reasonable fee for retrieval and storage of the items. (Florida Statutes § 493.6404)