Can the repo man break into my locked garage to get my car?

The repo man cannot break into a locked garage to take your car. Learn more.

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I'm late on my truck payments and am pretty certain that the bank will try to repossess it. I keep the truck locked in my garage during the day while I am at work. I am concerned that a repo agent might break into my garage to take the truck. Is that legal?

Answer:

Not unless the bank got a court order first. Creditors are allowed to engage in self-help to repossess cars. But that freedom is not without limits.

If a creditor risks “breaching the peace,” then it is not allowed to repossess the vehicle. That means it cannot use, or threaten to use, force or violence. It cannot break locks or destroy or damage property in attempting to reach the car.

If the repo agent breaks into your garage to take the truck, that is breaching the peace. You can raise that as a defense if the creditor files a deficiency lawsuit against you. You may also be able to file a counterclaim for any damages that the bank or repo agent causes (including damage to your garage and locks).

If the bank wishes to get past that locked garage legally, it will probably have to get a court order that requires you to turn the vehicle over. This is called a replevin. Keep in mind that if the bank gets a court order and you don't turn the truck over to the bank, then the local Sheriff may be the person breaking into your garage to take the truck. To learn more, see When Will a Car Loan Lender Use Replevin?

To learn more about car repossession, including what is legal and what isn't, see the articles and Q&As in our Car Repossession & Deficiency topic area.

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