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Do I have the legal right to "repo" a car i co-own and co-signed a loan for if the primary borrower had stopped making payments?

Buffalo, NY |

I co-signed a loan for an automobile about 2 years ago of which I am also the co-owner on the title. Over the past 10 months the primary borrower cut off all contact with the loan company requiring me to keep making payments to avoid damages on my credit. I reciently paid off the loan in full to be done with the harrassing phone calls. The primary borrower still has the car and says they do not have the money to pay me back right now. They also refuse to give me the car instead of the money. I consulted with the police and they informed me that I have every right to take the car, but because it is on the other party's property they may hit me with tresspassing charges if I try to go get it.

Do I have the legal right to "repo" the car considering I am listed as an owner?

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Attorney answers 2


Go to small claims court, obtain a judgment for the past due amount, then give the sheriff the judgment to execute on the car.


Unless you have a contract with your co-borrower and co-owner that says you have a secured interest in the debt unless and until they pay your back as they promised, and unless you perfected that security interest by filing the requisite UCC forms so that you could foreclose, I think the police are wrong, and that you don't have every right to this "self-help" method of getting the car.

I think you should get a judgment against your co-borrower and co-owner, as my colleague suggested, and then execute on that judgment by attaching the car.

PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU COMMENT, EMAIL ME OR PHONE ME. I'm only licensed in CA. This answer doesn't make me your lawyer, and neither do follow-up comments and/or emails and/or phone calls, and you shouldn't expect me to respond to your further questions if you haven't hired me. We need an actual agreement confirmed in writing before any attorney-client relationship is formed. This answer doesn't constitute legal advice, and shouldn't be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.

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