If someone enters a private property uninvited, it is considered trespassing. However, that isn’t necessarily the case for repossession agents.
Nathan DeLadurantey attorney explains that the law makes room for repossession agents to allow them to do their job. In other words, they can enter private land for one purpose — conducting a repossession of a vehicle or other asset.
Repo Agents on Private Property
Yes, repo agents can enter a private property to perform the repossession. However, they are not permitted to open locked or latched gates or enter closed spaces like garages and sheds.
For instance, if the vehicle requiring repossession is sitting on an accessible driveway (i.e., no gates or other barriers preventing access), the repo agent can walk onto the driveway and take the car.
In such events, the agent is acting within the law. However, there are times when people believe they have “gone too far” or have acted unlawfully. Sometimes, there is validity behind the claims. After all, everybody has repossession rights.
The Basics of Repossession Rights
Residents who understand the bottom line of their repossession rights can ensure they aren’t victims of illegal repossessions.
Repo agents must follow a standard set of procedures before they can take possession of the vehicle. Otherwise, they can come under fire for “wrongful repossession.”
The steps are as follows:
- Pre-repossession notice — Lenders can’t repossess vehicles unless their borrowers are in default of their financing agreement. At this point, the lender has to either sue the person for a court-ordered repossession or send a pre-repossession notice. The notice must contain:
a. Lender’s name, address, and phone number
b. Consumer credit transaction identification
c. Description of collateral (i.e., the vehicle)
d. Statement saying the lender has the right to repossess the vehicle as the customer is in default
e. Statement explaining that if the customer wants to object, they have 15 days to do so by demanding the merchant proceeds in court
f. Statement about court costs and attorney fees
- Self-help repossession — Self-help repossessions are considered “non-judicial” because they aren’t overseen by a judge. Most repossessions happen this way, presenting many opportunities for repo agents to break the law.
- Never breach the peace — The repossession agent can’t take the vehicle if the owner says, “don’t take my car,” or verbally protests in another way. If the agent continues with the repossession after this unequivocal protest, they are acting unlawfully.
- After the repossession — A quick call to an attorney can help those who feel they’ve experienced a wrongful repossession appeal the action and file a case for compensation.
Filing Claims Against Repossession Agents
If the repossession agent enters an enclosed space, like a garage or closed gate, then the resident can file a claim against them for illegal trespass.
Nathan DeLadurantey, attorney in Wisconsin, has represented clients with these claims and gleaned fantastic monetary compensation (over $300,000) for them.
However, success depends on the facts of the case, which attorneys discuss with clients during their free consultations.