West Virginia Repossession Laws

By Tracy Hodge
West Virginia creditors can repossess a vehicle if the debtor fails to maintain insurance on the vehicle.
expensive sports car image by Michael Shake from Fotolia.com

The state of West Virginia has repossession laws in place that are designed to protect the rights of debtors as well as the creditors' interest in the vehicle. When a loan is obtained for a vehicle, the vehicle is the collateral for the auto loan. This means that the creditor has the right to repossess the vehicle if the debtor defaults on the loan.

Default

In order to obtain a loan for a vehicle, the debtor must sign an agreement that outlines the payment amount, the date payment is due and the amount that may be charged if the debtor fails to make the payment on time. Debtors that fail to abide by the terms of the loan agreement are in default of their loan. Debtors may be found to be in default of an auto loan if they make their payments late on a consistent basis or if they fail to maintain adequate car insurance as required by West Virginia law. The creditor may repossess the vehicle after providing the debtor with a Ten Day Right To Cure letter.

Breach of Peace

West Virginia repossession law requires the creditor to avoid breaching the peace during the repossession of a vehicle.This means that the creditor or repossession agents may not threaten the debtor or use physical force in order to repossess a vehicle. Creditors do not have to give the debtor prior notice before repossessing a vehicle, but may not remove a vehicle from a secured area such as a closed garage or a gated area that is locked. Vehicles may be removed from a public parking garage or a driveway. If a repossession agent breaches the peace during the repossession of a vehicle, the debtor may not be liable for any deficiencies that may occur after the sale of the vehicle.

Redemption/Reinstatement

West Virginia residents have the right to redeem a repossessed vehicle if it is done before the sale of the vehicle. Redemption of the vehicle must be made by the debtor and requires the debtor to pay the entire amount due on the auto loan. This may also include any reasonable fees that are associated with the repossession of the vehicle such as storage costs, attorney's fees and the cost of scheduling the sale of the vehicle. Some creditors may allow reinstatement of the auto loan, if the debtor can cure the past due amount as well as any fees associated with the repossession. The debtor must then remain current with any future vehicle payments in order to avoid another repossession.

Sale

A creditor may schedule the sale of a vehicle that has been repossessed in order to satisfy the remaining balance of the auto loan. The creditor must give the debtor notice of the pending sale in writing. According to LawDog.com, the vehicle must be sold in a commercially reasonable manner and the sale proceeds are to apply to the fees associated with the repossession of the vehicle. Any remaining funds will be applied toward the satisfaction of the auto loan. West Virginia debtors are responsible for the payment of any deficiencies that may occur after the sale of the vehicle. Once the vehicle is sold at auction or in a private sale, the creditor may file a lawsuit to force the debtor to cure the deficiency amount.