Auto Repossession Laws in Florida

By Mark Pendergast
Florida's auto repossession laws address various topics.
automobile image by Franco DI MEO from Fotolia.com

When the owner of a vehicle does not make timely payments to a creditor, repossession is always a possibility. Florida law addresses various issues regarding auto repossession, such as when a creditor can legally repossess a vehicle, if a creditor can sell a repossessed vehicle and what happens to any personal property left in a repossessed car. In the state of Florida, the Office of the Attorney General advises consumers on their legal rights in these matters.

Creditor's Rights

A creditor may repossess an automobile as soon as the debtor defaults on his loan, according to the website of the attorney general of Florida. The creditor is legally allowed to repossess the vehicle without giving the debtor any prior notice and can go onto the debtor's property to do so. However the creditor cannot use force or the threat of force when repossessing the vehicle.

Creditor May Sell Vehicle

Once a creditor has repossessed the vehicle, he may either keep it to settle the debt or sell it. The creditor must inform the debtor whether he intends to keep the car or put it up for sale. If a creditor intends to keep the car the debtor can demand that she sell it instead. This makes sense if the car is worth more than the amount owed on the loan.

Personal Property

Any personal property that is in the car at the time it is repossessed remains the property of the debtor. This does not include certain additions a debtor has made to the car, such as a luggage rack. If the creditor can not account for personal property left in the car, the debtor is legally entitled to compensation.

Deficiency Judgment

If a creditor sells a car in a "commercially reasonable manner" and receives less than the amount owed on the loan, he can sue the debtor for the difference. This is called a "deficiency judgment." However if a creditor has violated Florida law in repossessing the vehicle, such as committing a breach of the peace, he may forfeit his right to collect a deficiency judgment, according to the Florida attorney general.

About the Author

Mark Pendergast has worked as a freelance writer since 2007, focusing on topics such as health, sports and finance. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and librarian and has written for the "Northside Sun" and "Jackpot," among other publications. Pendergast holds a Bachelor of Arts from Millsaps College.