When an individual finances a vehicle with an auto lender but fails to make payments as agreed — the vehicle can be repossessed, legally. However, unfortunately, unlawful repossessions also occur. To ensure you are protected, make sure you understand what an unlawful repossession is, and what options you have to protect yourself if you are faced with this scenario.

Notice of Default

It is the duty of a lender to notify a customer when they are at risk of default and repossession. Yes, when an individual enters into a loan agreement, it is largely their responsibility to understand the payment terms. However, legally, if a lender executes a repossession without proper notice, it is considered illegal. 

One reason this step is so essential is that lenders can, and do, make mistakes. For example, a lender can misapply or even lose a payment, which could lead to an inaccurate default. When notice is sent to the customer, the individual has the ability to reconcile the lender's data with their own to weed out any misinformation.

Illegal Entry

If you have financed a vehicle from a lender, they own the vehicle, but this ownership does not give them unlimited access to your property. Whenever a repossession is executed by way of an illegal entry, the act is considered unlawful and could be illegal. Consider an instance when the garage of a homeowner is broken into in order to retrieve the vehicle, for example. 

The fact that the garage was broken into serves as an indication of illegal entry. Lawfully, a vehicle can only be repressed when it can be retrieved without unlawfully infringing on the owner's property. 

Damage Claim

If you are the victim of an unlawful repossession, you do have a legal option to move forward, and it comes in the form of a damage claim. In the case of a failure to provide notice of default, you can sue the lender to have your vehicle returned, and you can sue for any financial losses you experienced as a result of the unlawful repossession.

In terms of an illegal entry, you can sue to have the vehicle returned and sue to have the lender pay for any damage caused by the unlawful entry onto your property. An attorney can help you collect data to support your claim.

If you believe you are the victim of an unlawful repossession, you should speak to a repossession lawyer for assistance as soon as possible.