What can happen legally ifI don’t surrender a car that a lender is trying to repossess?

UPDATED: Aug 11, 2011

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What can happen legally ifI don’t surrender a car that a lender is trying to repossess?

Asked on August 11, 2011 New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

First, the lender can simply take the car--it doesn't need your consent to take the car, assuming it's legally entitled to it (e.g. you've been missing or not making payments). That's what "repo men" do.

Second, the lender could instead sue you, seeking both a court order that you turn over the vehicle (and if you violate the order, you will be in contempt of court and could face imprisonment) and/or sue you for the money you owe on the financing or loan.

Short answer: if you owe money on a loan or financing agreement that entitles the lender to repossess, you have no legal way to prevent that from happening, other than paying the money due. If you don't owe the money or there is no right to repossess, the best way to handle it is by going to court yourself to resovle the matter.

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