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Legal Dictionary

repossession

Definition of repossession

Noun

repossession (countable and uncountable; plural repossessions)

  1. (uncountable) The condition of being repossessed
  2. (countable) The act of repossessing

Further reading

Repossession is generally used to refer to a financial institution taking back an object that was either used as collateral or rented or leased in a transaction. Note that repossession is a "self-help" type of action in which the party having right of ownership of the property in question takes the property back from the party having right of possession without invoking court proceedings.

This is usually done in accordance with a purchase contract or credit contract, in which the consumer agrees that the seller (the "lienholder") may repossess the object if the signers are past the grace period (generally for prime lenders the critical number is 30 days late making an installment payment but can vary based on how many payments have already been made, the length of the business relationship, reason why past due, etc.). Contracts that authorize repossession also usually specify additional fines that the consumer must pay to the seller, ostensibly to cover the seller's costs of the repossession and of depreciated value of the object, as the seller is now in possession of a "used" object. In some places self-help repossession is not permitted; the lien holder is required to go to court to obtain an order of replevin. However, in some states, repossession is mandatory and suits of replevin are not permitted.

If a lender finds itself in the situation of needing to repossess property while the borrower attempts to avoid this, the dealer may contract the work of repossession out to a repossession agent. Many things can be repossessed, but most repossession agencies focus on auto repossession.

The repo agent normally uses a tow truck or pickup truck with a special towing attachment, but sometimes they pick the lock or obtain the key from the car owner.

Usually the vehicle owner must be notified of a repossession. The repossession agent will find the car and check the VIN to make sure they have the right car. They will then hook up the car to the tow truck and tow it away or pick the lock and drive it away.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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