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Your rights during a vehicle repossession

You lease a vehicle through a car dealership. Unfortunately, you lose your job and can no longer afford to keep the car. You begin to fall behind on payments, and you worry that the lender will come to repossess your car.

In New York, when you lease or purchase a vehicle through set payments, the leasing agent has the authority to reclaim the vehicle if you miss payments. Yet you still hold rights during the repossession process. Though you may prove unable to pay the missing payments, you still must receive specific notification if you own the vehicle through the lease.

If you begin to fall behind on payments of any leased property, you may wish to immediately contact your lender and speak with an attorney. Repossession and bankruptcy attorneys understand the emotional process of losing property due to unpaid bills, but they hold the expertise to help you determine your options to begin repaying your creditor.

What creditors must do to repossess your vehicle

According to New York law, a leaseholder or creditor does not need to file a petition with the court to repossess your vehicle if you have missed payments. Technically, the vehicle is still owned by the creditor, and if you do not pay for the vehicle, they will retrieve it.

If you find yourself unable to make your vehicle payments, the leasing company may wish to repossess your vehicle at any time. You may have only missed multiple weeks or a few months of bills, but creditors still have the authority to take back your car.

When a creditor repossesses your car, you still have rights under the law. The creditor must complete the following, or the repossession may not prove legal.

  1. Notify the police that they have repossessed your vehicle
  2. Complete and deliver a repossession notice and your license plate to the Motor Vehicle Issuing Office within 24 hours
  3. Notify you that they have repossessed your vehicle within 24 hours

A creditor cannot simply repossess your vehicle without notifying you. After the car is repossessed, you may have the ability to retrieve the vehicle if you pay your past due payments to the creditor.

Knowing your rights before a potential repossession helps you understand what to expect when your vehicle faces repossession. It is important that when you deal with creditors, collection and repossession, you speak with an attorney to help you determine the best possible route to take for your unique situation. Do not fight money issues alone.

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