Vehicle Repossession Law: Know Your Rights

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Has your vehicle been repossessed?


After a vehicle is repossessed, New Jersey law protects owners and lessees from unscrupulous resale practices by requiring the finance company or company responsible for providing notice to give specific information about the intended sale and the amount owed by the owner and/or lessee. Specifically, the finance company must:

(1) state the method of intended disposition, meaning whether the vehicle’s resale will be private or public;
(2) if it is a public sale, state the time and place of the sale, or the time after which any other disposition is to be made;
(3) describe the amount of the debt;
(4) explain that the owner or lessee is entitled to an accounting of the unpaid debt and state the charge, if any, for an accounting;
(5) provide a telephone number and mailing address where the owner or lessee can receive additional information about the resale and/or redemption of the vehicle; and
(6) state that the owner and/or lessee may redeem the vehicle at any time prior to the resale/disposition.
These notice requirements are designed “not merely to advise the buyers of the termination of their title . . . but also to protect them from unfair imposition of a deficiency claim by allowing them to attend or bring other potential buyers to the sale and thus prevent a disposition of collateral for less than its fair market value.”

If the notice fails to include the required information, it will be deemed a violation of New Jersey’s Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.) and may also be actionable under a variety of other laws, including the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (C.F.A.) and the State’s common law. The U.C.C. provides several remedies to owners or lessees. Owners or lessees may recovery their actual damages, which may include loss of use and enjoyment of their vehicle, loss of value between the vehicle’s fair market and the resale values and elimination of any post-resale deficiency. Additionally, for certain violations, owners and lessees may recover an additional $500. Alternatively, owners and lessees may also recover an amount equal to the finance charges (total interest charges) and 10% of the loan’s original principal. Under the C.F.A., owners and lessees may recover three times their actual damages, attorneys’ fees, punitive damages and costs.

Keefe Law Firm is actively litigating against and investigating finance companies, including banks, credit unions (see list below) and car dealerships, for violations of the U.C.C., C.F.A. and other laws. Because many finance companies or the companies responsible for providing notice repeatedly use the same deficient form letters, owners and lessees may be able to group their claims into a class action. If you believe that your finance company failed to give you proper notice, please contact Keefe Law Firm for a confidential and free consultation.