Having your car repossessed is a stressful situation. According to Florida law, a lender can lawfully repossess a vehicle if the borrower defaults on the car loan. However, it’s important to understand that lenders have to follow certain procedures, and borrowers still have rights. You may have the opportunity to get your car back. First, there are a few things you need to know about car repossession in Florida.
Florida Repossession Laws
If you default on your car loan, Florida repossession laws dictate that your lender can legally repossess your car. What constitutes a default depends on the individual contract you signed with your lender. Check your contract to find your loan terms which should be clearly laid out. If you have not met the obligations of your end of the loan, unfortunately, the lender does have the right to repossess your car. However, the repossession must be done through an agent who is authorized to repossess cars in Florida. And the good news is, you still have a few options.
Read More: Florida Repossession Collection Laws & Statute of Limitations
One interesting aspect of Florida repo laws is that they allow for a voluntary repossession before your car is simply taken from you by the lender. Basically, a lender is obligated to give you an opportunity to voluntarily give up your car at a convenient time, date and place. This gives you an opportunity to remove any personal items from the car. Further, because you are voluntarily giving up the car, the lender will not have to shoulder the cost of towing, which will be passed on to you.
Keeping costs down could help you whether you plan to get your car back or not. This is because the more expenses that are incurred during your repossession, the more you will ultimately owe the lender. What’s more, if you do plan to redeem your repossessed car, you will need to pay any expenses incurred during the repossession. Voluntary repossession can substantially lower these expenses.
Notice of Resale
Even if your car is lawfully repossessed, your lender still has a few obligations towards you. You lender must notify you about what will be done with your car. The lender may choose to resell your car, but first must notify you of the time, date and place of the sale. If the car is going up for public sale, this notice should be delivered at least 10 days prior. You should also be notified of the amount remaining on your loan, any interest accrued and any expenses the lender has incurred while repossessing your car.
Get Your Car Back
There are a few ways you can try to get your car back if it’s been repossessed in Florida. If you believe the lender violated the terms of your contract in repossessing the vehicle, you can file a complaint with the Florida General Attorney’s Office. If your car was rightfully repossessed, you still have a few options. At any time before your car’s sale or disposal, you have a right to redeem it. In order to do this, you must pay the amount of the loan, any interest accrued up to the point of your payment, and any other expenses the lender took on while repossessing your car and getting it ready for resale. If you did a voluntary repossession, these repo costs should be somewhat limited. Finally, you may be able to reinstate your car loan by paying off your overdue payments and whatever other expenses were incurred by the repossession. Check with your lender for details, as this option may not be available for everyone.
If your car was lawfully repossessed in Florida, you still have a right to redeem it. You may be able to work out a deal with a lender, or you can reclaim the vehicle by repaying the amount of the loan, any interest accrued up to the point of your payment, and any other expenses the lender took on while repossessing your car and getting it ready for resale.
Chelsea Levinson earned her J.D. from Cardozo. As a former policy researcher, she has a passion for communicating legal issues to the public. She has created legal and policy content for Vox, Levo, Run For Something and more.