If you are struggling to make your car payments in Massachusetts, then knowledge of your rights may be critical. These laws are designed to allow a repossession quickly, so time is of the essence.
Default in Payments Only:
Your car can only be repossessed for a default in payments. This is noteworthy because lenders in other states without this protection can repossess for other reasons, such as a failure to reaffirm the loan in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. That is not the law in Massachusetts, though.
10 Days After Default:
Before proceeding with a repossession, a car lender must wait until at least 10 days have passed from the date your payment was due.
Notice of Default:
Once 10 days have passed, the lender must send you a written notice stating that you have at least 21 days to catch up on your payments in order to prevent a repossession. The notice must state how much you are behind and where payment can be made. If the default is cured within this time period, then the lender cannot continue with repossession efforts. Please note, though, that you are only entitled to this notice 3 times during the course of a loan. If you default on payments a 4th time, this notice is no longer required.
If the default is not paid, then the lender may hire a company to repossess your vehicle involuntarily. In its efforts to repossess, that company may not use force or breach the peace. It also cannot repossess a vehicle located on property that you own or rent unless you consent to their entry on your property. If a repossession would violate these rules, then a court hearing must first be held.
20 Days After Repossession:
A repossessed car cannot be sold for at least 20 days after the repossession. During this time, you have a right of redemption, which is a right to get the car back by paying the defaulted amount owed (plus costs). The lender may require you to pay the loan in full only if it previously notified you that the loan was being accelerated. If you are unable to timely pay the redemption amount, then a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing may allow you an extended timeframe to do so, along with a return of the car.
If the car is sold at repossession for less than the balance of your loan, then the lender can attempt to collect this deficiency amount from you. No deficiency is owed if the loan is discharged through bankruptcy.
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