When a borrower defaults on a vehicle loan in Florida, state law authorizes the lending party to seize the vehicle if the loan agreement designates the vehicle as collateral that secures the loan. Florida laws provide certain limitations on vehicle repossessions and require the lender or the repossession agent to have certain paperwork to repossess a vehicle. Repossession agents often carry additional forms and other paperwork to avoid conflicts during or after a vehicle repossession.
Florida Repossession Law
In general, a creditor has the legal authority to seize a car when a borrower defaults on a loan, according to the Florida Attorney General’s Office. Once the borrower is in default, the lender may repossess the debtor’s car at any time without prior notice. The lender and its agents may come onto the debtor’s property, such as a driveway, to take possession of the vehicle. Florida law prohibits repossession agents from using or threatening to use physical force during a vehicle repossession. Repossession agents and lenders are liable for any harm they cause to debtors or their property during a repossession.
Florida Statute 493.6401 requires vehicle repossession firms and agents to have a license. To qualify for a license, repossession agents must take training courses and pay a biannual fee to keep the license in effect. Although a repossession agent does not have to carry the license, Florida Statute 493.6404 requires a vehicle used during a repossession to display the license number.
Evidence of Default
Florida laws do not require the creditor or the repossession agent to have any specific paperwork to repossess a vehicle. A repossession agent might carry paperwork from the lender that substantiates the loan default to show if confronted by a debtor or law enforcement agents. Lenders have the legal burden to prove the loan is in default if the borrower files a lawsuit claiming an illegal repossession of the vehicle. If the repossession occurred without a loan default, the lender may be liable to the borrower for damages.
Florida Statute 493.6404 requires repossession agents to make an inventory of personal property when repossessing a vehicle. The inventory must contain a complete list of the personal property in the car at the time of the repossession. The agent must inform the debtor within five days that the agent is in possession of the property. The agent must hand over the debtor's property if the borrower arrives at the agent’s place of business to reclaim the property within 45 days of the notice.