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Mark,
29 December, 23
The solicitor who was appointed to me was outstanding
Very simple to engage with instant confirmation in writing straight after. Daniel, the solicitor who was appointed to me, was outstanding in his approach, his understanding of the technicalities of the law and, crucially, a genuine care for the client. Would definitely advise using Lawhive, you won't regret it.
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04 October, 23
We were so pleased to find the Lawhive website
After struggling to find a solicitor willing to give us advice, and for a reasonable cost, we were so pleased to find the Lawhive website. At first we wondered how well it would work, but needn't have worried at all - the whole process was simple, straightforward and professional and great value for money. We felt extremely lucky to be matched with our solicitor, Sonay Erten, as she was exactly what we were looking for - knowledgeable, patient and kind - a refreshing change from solicitors we have used in the past. She showed a great deal of empathy for our situation and explained things in language that was easy to understand (rather than the usual "solicitor" talk, which can be intimidating). She's a shining example of what a solicitor should aspire to be and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend her to others or use her again in the future. We came out of our session reassured and confident of what we needed to do going forward, so a big "thank you!"
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01 June, 23
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I got the outcome I wanted regarding cease and desist to a competitor spreading defamatory statements about my business. Fast and professional, and at a much lower price than high street firms. Highly recommended thanks.
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23 July, 23
Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
I found the website very easy to use. Quick responses and I was even able to talk to someone who was friendly and competent. She rang me rather than emailed me. A solicitor was quickly found who could help me and once the relevant identification was approved he started work. Within two days the solicitor had checked documents and commented on them. Very efficient! Can highly recommend.
Pauline Piper,
15 February, 23
The service was fast and ultra professional
Sonay was really informative and understood my questions instantly, what I thought was complex Sonay simplified massively. She regularly checked in and the service was fast and ultra professional. Would highly recommend.
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09 November, 23
Great service and very reasonably priced,
Great service and very reasonably priced, Kem was really helpful and professional. Would use again
Sarah Shanks,
21 November, 23
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About

A car repossession is the process of taking possession of a vehicle by a creditor when the owner has defaulted on their loan or lease payments. The creditor is usually a bank or finance company. Solicitors can help with the repossession or defence process to ensure all rights are respected.Next steps

How much does help with Car Repossession cost?

The cost for a licensed solicitor to help with Car Repossession is dependent on many factors including the complexity and specific requirements of the case. On average it is expected to range from £80-£150 but in some cases it could cost as much as £220.

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Car Repossession Solicitors

If you are paying off a hired car your finance company can repossess the vehicle if you miss payments. However, many car drivers who purchase their car in this way have little understanding of their legal rights. Because of this finance companies may repossess cars by cutting corners and not following the correct processes. 

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At Lawhive, our car repossession solicitors can help you claim if your car was unlawfully repossessed or you're being threatened with repossession. Contact our legal assessment team for a free case evaluation and find out how we can help with your matter.

What is car repossession?

Car repossession is when a car hire company or money lender seizes your car to recover unpaid debts.

A car is the second largest financial purchase for most people which means it can be particularly challenging when a car is repossessed, especially if you rely on it to get to work and live day to day. 

However, when payments are missed a lender can claim repossession of a vehicle, this is because car loans are secured loans where the vehicle is used as collateral against the amount that is lent. In this manner, the lender owns the car until your debt is paid off. 

How many missed payments before a car is repossessed?

The number of missed car finance payments before a car is repossessed in the UK will depend on a few factors:

  • The value of the car

  • The amount you borrowed

  • The length of the loan

  • The lender’s rules

  • Your agreement with the lender 

Generally, a finance company can’t consider repossession until at least two missed payment dates have passed.

When you miss your first payment your lender will get in touch notifying you of the fact, reminding you to pay and letting you know how you can do so. The letter may also mention that the company will take legal action if there are future missed payments.

After the second missed payment, your lender is able to send you an arrears notice. This letter will specify that you are in arrears and request that you contact them to arrange repayment.

Car repossession and the law

When a car is hired through a Consumer Credit Act 1974 regulated hire agreement or conditional sale and the borrower has paid off a third of their loan amount or more, a lender must get a court order to repossess the car. 

We mentioned earlier that lenders don’t always follow the correct process when repossessing a car. In an instance when a lender repossesses a car in the circumstances above without applying for a court order a borrower could seek compensation. 

In some circumstances when a lender doesn’t apply for a court order, your debt may be written off. 

If you haven’t paid a third or more of your debt off you may not have the same legal protections. It is worth speaking to a lawyer if this is the case because when a lender repossesses your car there are a variety of procedures they must follow, and if they don’t you could claim compensation. 

Car repossessions and your rights

Under the law you have various rights when it comes to a lender repossessing your car. These include the right to receive a written notice that the lender intends to seize your car before they follow through on the action. 

If a valid court order hasn’t been secured by your lender you have the right to apply for compensation and you may be released from the liability of paying back the outstanding loan amount.

When the finance company has a court order, they will sell the vehicle at a car repossession auction as soon as possible to make back some of their costs.

These auctions are only available to the car trade, including car dealers, so you won’t be able to attend the auction and buy back your vehicle. However, lenders usually face a shortfall between the sale value and what you owe them which will have to be paid by you.

They will have to apply for a County Court Judgment to force you to pay. If you are in a tough position financially and can’t pay you may be able to request to be put on an affordable payment plan.

What should I do if my car has been repossessed by a finance company?

Repossession is usually the last resort for a lender after you have missed several repayments.

If your car has already been repossessed it may be possible to get the vehicle back by paying outstanding arrears and keeping on top of subsequent payments before the car is sold at auction.

You could also pay off the loan in full, which depending on the type of agreement you have with the finance company, could give you the option of keeping the car or selling it.

Can my car be repossessed without a court order? 

In the UK the law sets out that a court order must be taken out in order for a car to be repossessed in the majority of cases.

If you’ve paid less than a third of the loan amount back to the lender and you cannot afford to pay more you will have to go to court to apply for a time order, this is designed to give borrowers extra time to cover any missed payments and get back on schedule with your loan.

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Can my car be repossessed if it is on private land?

In the UK a car can be repossessed when it is parked on private land. However, you have the right to be notified that the lender intends to repossess your car and the time and date they plan to take your car.

If you have paid more than a third of the loan amount the lender needs a court order to take the vehicle from private property as it is classed as a protected good.

A court order is not required when the lender collects the vehicle from a public place like a public street outside your home. 

Can I stop car repossession? 

You shouldn't try to physically stop a repo employee from repossessing your car. If you damage your car in the act or any other property you could face charges for criminal damage and it won’t stop the car finance company from pursuing you for the debt you owe them.

You may be able to show the repossession employee that your loan is up to date, this could mean a phone call to your finance company. If you are allowed to keep your car you may still be liable for the repossession company’s costs.

What happens to the debt when a car is repossessed?

As the car is still the property of the lender you are liable for your debt.

Typically, you will have to pay the difference between what is left on your account and the amount that the lender was able to sell your vehicle for. 

If the lender took your car unlawfully, if they failed to apply for a court order, for instance, your debt may be written off and you can apply for compensation.

How can I challenge the repossession of my car?

You have the right to challenge your lender’s repossession. If you think they have broken the rules, or haven’t followed the correct processes you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, the financial regulator that ‘settles complaints between customers and businesses that provide financial services and has the power to put things right’.

How do I negotiate with my lender after car repossession?

You’ll want to be sure that you’re following your lender’s processes, so check your documentation to see if they explain the procedure for negotiating your loan after your car has been repossessed. 

Ask your lender how much you owe as they may accept a payment plan if you cannot afford the payments as scheduled. If you can pay in full you will likely be able to get the car back. 

If you believe the lender didn’t have the right to take the vehicle you should alert them to the fact mentioning your rights under the Consumer Credit Act.

You can contact a solicitor to pursue compensation if your lender is not forthcoming in returning your vehicle when you feel they should under the law, or they are unwilling to negotiate with you.

What does a lender do with personal belongings inside a repossessed car?

When repossessing your car your repo agent must return any items that are left in the car that belong to you, unless otherwise stated in the buyer’s agreement. 

These are usually low value items such as change, car maintenance kits etc, but could also include your keys, wallet and mobile phone.

Items fixed to the car that require specialist tools to remove are an exception, these include:

  • GPS systems

  • Radios and video screens

  • Bluetooth devices

  • Lights and mirrors 

  • Rims, bumpers and sunroofs

The lender will usually auction these items off with the car.

What happens to my car insurance after my car is repossessed?

Before the car that has been repossessed is sold you should keep your insurance cover in place. This sounds counterintuitive because you can no longer drive the car, however, you should wait for the lender to sell the car before cancelling your insurance because otherwise they will arrange their own insurance premium which could be at a higher rate and you’ll have to cover the costs.

When the car has been sold you should cancel your insurance to ensure you’re not paying to insure a car that does not belong to you and you cannot drive.

If you want to fight to reclaim your car after it has been repossessed keeping your insurance intact means you will be insured when you get the car back and you can continue driving safely and legally.

Will car repossession affect my credit rating?

Yes, repossession can seriously affect your credit score as long as it remains on your credit file. 

Typically, a car repossession will remain on your credit rating for seven years after the date of the repossession, which can damage your ability to get another car on credit or use credit for any other type of purchase such as mobile phone contracts and laptops.

Missing payments can also impact your credit score and demonstrate that you are not a responsible and reliable borrower. 

What is voluntary repossession?

When you are unable to meet your payments, you can avoid repossession and being liable for future payments. Section 99 of the Consumer Credit Act allows car buyers to terminate their agreement voluntarily and give up their vehicle when they can’t keep up with repayments. You may have to pay a charge to cancel the agreement depending on how much you have already paid off.

Can bailiffs take a car on finance?

While repo agents working for a car finance company can take your car when you fall behind on finance payments, bailiffs cannot take a car that doesn’t belong to you.

If you’ve fallen behind on other loans you may be worried that bailiffs will attempt to repossess your car. Under the law they have no right to do so, however, if they arrive at your property to take your car you must be able to prove that it is on finance to prevent them from trying to recover it. If you cannot prove that you’re paying for the car on finance within 2 hours, bailiffs are within their rights to tow your car.

If you know bailiffs are coming or suspect they will arrive at your address shortly make sure you have your car finance agreement to hand. You can also reference bank statements to show the payments you have made.

If you cannot find your car finance agreement you can visit the HPI check website. Simply enter your registration number and show the results to the bailiffs. 

How can Lawhive help?

Our money, tax, and debt solicitors can help you build a case against a car finance company that has repossessed your car unlawfully. 

If your lender repossessed your car without a court order you may be able to get compensation by challenging the repossession of your car.

Contact our legal assessment team for a free case evaluation to find out more.

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