Having reliable transportation is a requirement for many jobs, especially as more and more people are heading back to the office after working from home during the pandemic. People depend on working vehicles for getting to work, getting groceries, and taking children to and from school. Most people can’t afford to pay cash for a new vehicle, so they take out an auto loan to pay for the vehicle. Unfortunately, missed payments can lead to the car lender repossessing the car and leaving you stranded. Repossession can be an overwhelmingly stressful experience, especially if you’re not sure what your rights are. At O’Bryan Law Offices, our dedicated team can help you avoid repossession and keep harassing creditors off your back. We’ll go over different aspects of Kentucky law regarding car repossession, including the statute of limitations on car repossession. For more information about our legal services and how we help, call us today at (502) 400-4020.
What Happens If I Default On My Car Loan?
When you apply for an auto loan for a vehicle, you sign a loan agreement outlining what happens if you miss payments. Late and missed payments on car loans can result in serious consequences. Late payments can have a major impact on your credit score, since the majority of your score comes from on-time payments. Missed payments can result in your loan being in default, which means it’s not being paid as agreed. In Kentucky, lenders can repossess a car once the loan is in default.
Because Kentucky law doesn’t specify how many late or missed payments result in default, it’s up to your lender. The loan agreement will outline how many payments you can miss before they begin the repossession process. Some lenders are more strict than others. You may have a car loan that specifies the loan is in default after a single late payment. Other lenders may have more lenient guidelines and give a grace period for late payments. If your loan is in default, the lender can legally repossess your vehicle.
Can My Car Be Repossessed?
Being behind on your car payments isn’t like being behind on your credit card payments. When you fall behind on your credit card payments, you often end up paying more than you originally owed because of high interest rates and late fees. Not paying your credit card bill won’t result in the creditor coming and taking the card out of your wallet. Credit card debt is unsecured debt, meaning it doesn’t have any collateral.
A car loan, on the other hand, is backed by the vehicle itself. Failure to pay the loan as agreed can result in the lender taking the vehicle from your driveway. A lender can’t just decide they want the vehicle back and take it. If your written agreement states that they cannot begin the repossession process until the loan is in default for three months, they can’t repossess the car after only one missed payment.
Who Can Take My Vehicle?
Most people go through a bank for their car loan. When the loan is in default, an employee from the bank won’t be the one to come and repossess your car. Most banks use a repossession agency to collect the vehicle. In Kentucky, lenders do not have to notify you that they are beginning the repossession process. Your loan agreement will outline if the lender is required to give you any notice. This is why it’s important to take steps to stop repossession as soon as you are at risk. Repossession agents don’t have to have any specific license in Kentucky. Because of this, the repossession agents may not be entirely familiar with the law.
If you have a lien on your car, the lienor may be the one to repossess your vehicle. If you find yourself asking, “What is a lien on a car?”, we recommend reading our related blog.
What Can Repossession Agents Not Do?
In the state of Kentucky, repossession agents have to follow specific rules. A repossession agent cannot breach the peace during repossession. This includes using or threatening to use physical force against you. Kentucky repossession law states that repossession agents can take your car from public property, but they cannot enter a locked space without a court order. This means your car can be taken from your driveway, but not from your locked garage. If the repossession agents cannot access your car, the lender will likely get a court order against you.
What If I Still Have a Balance on My Repossessed Vehicle?
Your lender may not have to send any notice before a repossession, but they have to send legally required written notices after repossession. Your lender will send you a Notice of Default and Right of Redemption. This will be a written notice that includes the amount of your remaining balance (including the repossession fees) and how to redeem the loan if you are interested in getting your car back. The lender will also have to send you a Notice of Sale, which includes the date, time, and location of the sale of your vehicle. Selling the vehicle is a way for the lender to recoup the money that you still owe on the vehicle. The lender has to sell the car in a commercially reasonable manner, which means they can’t accept an unreasonably low offer for the vehicle.
If the car sells for less than what you owe, the lender could bring a deficiency judgment against you. If the proceeds from the sale aren’t enough to cover the repossession fees, storing the vehicle, and balance of the loan, there will be a deficiency balance left over that you are legally responsible for. The lender can bring a civil lawsuit against you for the deficiency balance. The lawsuit will likely end in a judgment and the creditor will then begin the process of collecting on the debt by either garnishing your wages, garnishing your bank account or placing a judgment lien on real estate you might have in your name.
Statute of Limitations For Vehicle Repossession
A statute of limitations is how long someone has to pursue civil or criminal litigation against another party. Personal injury cases, for example, have a one-year statute of limitations. This means that victims of a personal injury have a year from the date of their accident to pursue compensation for their injuries. Similarly, Kentucky has a statute of limitations for vehicle repossession. This statute of limitations is four years.
Many people believe that if they can hold onto the car for longer than the statute of limitations, they are free and clear of the debt. This is not the case. The statute of limitations cannot prevent a lender from repossessing a vehicle. This statute protects consumers from untimely debt collection efforts. This means that lenders have four years to file a lawsuit against you to collect any remaining balances.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?
The statute of limitations begins on the maturity date of the loan. This is the original agreed-upon day that the loan would have been fully paid off. If your car was repossessed, the statute of limitations begins on the day of the repossession.
What if My Car Was Wrongfully Possessed?
If you believe your car was wrongfully repossessed, you have legal options available. It’s possible that your creditor violated the terms of the loan agreement or sold the car in a private sale without informing you. Establishing an attorney-client relationship with an experienced attorney from O’Bryan Law Offices can help you determine if the creditor had a right to repossess your vehicle.
Will A Repossession Appear on My Credit Report?
In addition to leaving you feeling stranded and helpless with no transportation, a repossession can also have a major impact on your credit history. A repossession will stay on your credit report for up to seven years. This could negatively affect any future applications for lines of credit, including other auto loans and home loans. Your future creditors will see a repossession, even a voluntary repossession, as a negative mark.
It does not mean that you will be barred from getting credit in the future, but it may limit your options and significantly raise your interest rates. Future auto loans may require a large down payment and extreme interest rates before considering your application. This is why it’s important to avoid repossession. Luckily for you, the bankruptcy attorneys at O’Bryan Law Offices can help you do just that.
How Can I Avoid Repossession in Kentucky?
Avoiding a car repo can mean that you avoid a major headache. Getting a repossessed car back from your lender can often be more difficult and costly than avoiding repossession in the first place. At O’Bryan Law Offices, we’re ready to explore all of your options when it comes to avoiding repossession in Kentucky.
Talk to Your Lender
Talking to your lender may be able to help you avoid repossession. If your financial situation has taken a one-time hit because of an unexpected illness or disaster, your lender may be willing to work with you and set up a payment plan so your loan doesn’t go into default. At O’Bryan Law Offices, our attorneys have experience with creditor negotiations and we can help you. Having an experienced Kentucky attorney by your side can ensure that your rights are protected and your lender isn’t taking advantage of you.
If your financial situation has changed in a drastic way, such as after the loss of a job or a divorce, you may not be able to afford the monthly payments. In this case, a loan modification may be the best option for you. A loan modification can change the terms of your loan to make it more affordable. The repayment term can be extended, meaning lower monthly payments. Working with a loan modification attorney from O’Bryan Law Offices can mean that your best interests are protected.
You may see another company or attorney advertising debt consolidation options, but these can often be predatory scams that take advantage of people down on their luck. Our law firm is different. We have helped thousands of families pull themselves out of debt and develop good credit habits. Debt counseling and credit counseling from our experienced team can teach you how to manage your money and avoid negative repercussions.
Many people see filing bankruptcy as “giving up,” but this is simply not the case. Bankruptcy can provide people with the relief they need to get back on their feet. Many people avoid bankruptcy until the last possible moment. Financial distress is often seen as taboo, so people are reluctant to speak to a professional regarding sensitive or confidential information. Our bankruptcy attorneys know the intense stress and worry that comes with extensive debt. We can help. Filing bankruptcy can be the first step in the journey to becoming debt-free. At O’Bryan Law Offices, we’re ready to help you every step of the way. From deciding which type of bankruptcy is best for you to restoring your credit after bankruptcy, we’ve got you covered.
Does Bankruptcy Stop Repossessions?
When you file bankruptcy, an automatic stay goes into effect. An automatic stay prevents debt collectors from trying to collect debt from you and halts any repossession or foreclosure proceedings. It’s important to contact our office before any repossession takes place. Many people believe that they’ll lose all their assets, like their home and their cars, when filing bankruptcy. Bankruptcy can actually help you save your possessions!
Bankruptcy can stop wage garnishment, bring an end to creditor harassment, prevent foreclosure, and help you avoid repossession! While most people choose Chapter 13 bankruptcy to save their assets, it’s possible to keep your assets and file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy as well. Don’t believe the many myths surrounding bankruptcy–believe the facts. For more information about how bankruptcy can benefit you, contact the Kentucky bankruptcy attorneys at O’Bryan Law Offices.
Kentucky Bankruptcy Lawyers at O’Bryan Law Offices Can Help Save Your Car
Bankruptcy is an effective debt relief option for many families and individuals across Kentucky. Working with a skilled bankruptcy attorney from O’Bryan Law Offices can help you get back on your feet and back to living without the stress of debt looming over your head. During your free evaluation, our board-certified attorneys will help you explore the legal options available for your case. If you are behind on your car payments and either wish to get current on your payments or surrender the vehicle, CALL TODAY to schedule a FREE consultation at O’Bryan Law Offices (502) 400-4020.