When you fall behind on your car loan payment, it’s a good bet that repossession is in your future. But, because laws on this vary by state, this may not be the case in every situation. That’s when replevin – also known as claim and delivery – comes into play.
How Replevin and Repossession Differ
Replevin differs from repossession in one distinct way – it results from a lawsuit. In most states, repossession is considered allowable, without notice, from anywhere the car is found, as long as there’s no breach of peace.
A “repo man” can’t enter a locked garage or building to get your vehicle, even with a duplicate key. So, you may think locking it up is a good way to avoid losing your car. Or, you may think the repo company can’t take your car if they can’t find it, and begin parking at a friend’s place down the block.
But since the repo company knows your vehicle and your habits, this won’t deter them. Plus, they can typically (and legally) get onto any property to recover your car. Especially if it’s clear you’re intentionally keeping your car from them – for example, by locking it in your garage after defaulting on your loan, when normally you park your vehicle in the driveway. In addition, hiding your car to avoid a repo is illegal.
When Replevin is Used
Some states require notification to the borrower before a lender can self-recover a vehicle by repossession, and others don’t allow repossession without a court order. Replevin is a legal action that allows recovery of things people believe are rightfully theirs, which are being withheld. Recovery in this manner usually comes by suing through a court of law, and is something your creditor will use if you’re resisting repossession.
According to legal website Nolo.com, you’re entitled to certain things before a creditor takes your vehicle in this manner. The creditor must inform you in writing of their intent to get an order of replevin. You’re also entitled the opportunity to a hearing, for which you’re given a written notice of time, date, and place. Additionally, you have the right to dispute the complaint.
These rights, and the timeframe you have to work with, vary by state, so it’s important to know the laws in your state if you find yourself in this situation.
If You’re Facing Replevin
If you’re facing replevin, or even just repossession, you have options. Be sure you know the laws in your state.
- Be proactive: Instead of sitting around and waiting for the repo man, or for a lawsuit to come, talk to your lender at the first sign you’re going to miss a payment. In most cases, the lender should be willing work with you to help avoid losing your car. Truthfully, the lender would rather you successfully complete your loan than have to deal with the cost and headache involved in resorting to a lawsuit to get a car back.
- Surrender your car: Your lender is happy to avoid having to repossess your car, or go through replevin, especially if you turn over the car yourself. When you do this, talk to your lender and try to negotiate some reduction of your delinquency, they may be willing to work with you.
- Reinstate your loan: If the option is available to you, you can typically reinstate your loan by making all your back payments, along with late fees and any additional costs, in one lump sum. This option isn’t available for everyone, so you have to find out what your state allows and talk to your lender. Know also, that if you default again, this option won’t be offered the next time around.
- Redeem your car: The right to redemption means you pay the entire outstanding balance of your auto loan, and then you get your car back. This option may or may not be worth investing in, so weigh your options carefully. If there’s equity in the car and your loan balance is small, it may be worth it. On the other hand, if your payoff amount is relatively large, this may not be a realistic goal, especially since you weren’t able to keep up with your installment payments.
The Bottom Line
When you’re facing repossession, there’s no advantage to keeping your vehicle from the repo man. Your creditors have replevin on their side, and going through a lawsuit can be more stressful and expensive than losing your car.
If you’ve been through this kind of action, and are in need of a vehicle, Auto Credit Express wants to help. We work with special finance dealerships all across the country that have lending resources for people who have bad credit, no credit, and even repossession in their past. Let us help connect you to a local dealer. Just fill out our simple online auto loan request form and we’ll get the process started today!