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

The repo man can't break into a locked garage to take your car. Learn more.

Question

I'm late on my truck payments and am pretty sure 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 vehicle. 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 isn't without limits. If a creditor risks "breaching the peace," it isn't allowed to repossess the vehicle. So, the repo agent can't use, or threaten to use, force or violence. It can't 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.

To get past that locked garage legally, the bank will probably have to get a court order that requires you to turn the vehicle over. This is called "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 might be the person breaking into your garage to take the vehicle.

Getting Help

For more information about car repossession and replevin laws in your state, consult with a local attorney.

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