Repossession in Georgia: Can You Keep Your Vehicle?
Have creditors threatened to repossess your car, truck, boat, ATV, or other personal property? If so, you need to take action. Without a car, you may lose your job and find yourself unable to complete basic errands, such as shopping and driving your kids to school. Depending on your job, a boat, truck or piece of heavy equipment may also be a necessity.
But what options do you have? Below are some general guidelines on repossession in Georgia.
Repossession of an Automobile
Under a typical leasing or financing arrangement, the consumer (buyer or lessee) slowly pays off his or her debt. But if you fall behind on these payments — or otherwise violate your contract — the lender can seek to repossess your car based on what’s known as a security interest. Effectively, the car is viewed as collateral. It can be seized if you fail to meet the terms of the loan.
Your Car Can Be Repossessed, but the Lender Has Limits
Georgia law allows you many rights, even after repossession. For instance, if you left personal property in the vehicle – such as a computer, coat or jewelry – you can ask the lender to return that property to you. (Beware: the lender will not automatically return your affects.)
You are also entitled to a peaceful repossession per Georgia Code Section 11-9-503. In other words, the lender cannot break into your garage and tow your car off your property. This doesn’t mean that you can hide your car in the garage to prevent repossession, though! If you resist, the lender can recover the vehicle through a judicial process.
After Repossession — Possible Scenarios
- The lender can keep the vehicle and send you a notice that you’ve satisfied your obligation. No further action is needed.
- The lender can auction the car off. You must be told about the auction, and the lender must “be reasonable in the sale.” Depending on your debt and what happens at auction, you may still owe money on the car — what’s known as a deficiency. For instance, let’s say you owe $10,000 on your vehicle. The lender repossesses it and sells it for $8,000. You then still owe the lender a $2,000 deficiency ($10,000 – $8,000 = $2,000).
- The lender can return your car, if you pay down the debt and commit to staying current.
Strategies for Preventing Repossession or Dealing with Its Aftermath
A Georgia repossession lawyer at Berry & Associates can help by:
- Challenging the lender’s right to repossess the vehicle.
- Renegotiating the terms of the lease.
- Taking action against the lender for failing to notify you properly, repossessing your car in a non-peaceful way, or selling your car at an unreasonably low price (thus leaving you with an unfairly large deficiency).
- Helping you file for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy in Georgia, which immediately puts a stop to all repossession efforts.
To understand what tactics and strategies make the most sense for you, contact the experienced bankruptcy attorneys at Berry & Associates today at firstname.lastname@example.org or (800) 414-3328. We provide free, no obligation consultations throughout Northern Georgia, including Rome, Newnan, Gainesville and Atlanta.