Repossession is the process of taking back a car after the owner defaults on their auto loan. Each state has different laws and regulations that dictate every step of the repossession process from start to finish. This page will provide an overview of Connecticut's Repossession Laws and what you should know if you've fallen behind on car payments.
Written by Upsolve Team.
Updated January 4, 2022
If you’ve fallen behind on your auto loan payments, your car could be at risk of repossession. Repossession is when a creditor physically takes a car from a borrower who’s defaulted on their loan. When you finance a vehicle, you sign a retail installment contract giving your lender a security interest in the vehicle. This interest allows your lender to repossess the car if you don’t make your payments.
Connecticut law sets out the rules a lender and repo company must follow to repossess a vehicle. This guide covers how motor vehicle repossession works in the Constitution State and what you can do if your car is repossessed.
How Many Payments Can I Miss Without Risking a Repossession in Connecticut?
Usually, one. In Connecticut, though, the law doesn’t focus on missing a certain number of payments. Instead, the key factor is whether you’re in default on your car loan. What counts as default depends on the terms of your financing agreement. It could be paying late, making a partial payment, not keeping enough insurance on your vehicle, or something else. Your lender can begin the repossession process as soon as you’re in default. Your lender can’t repossess your car, though, unless your loan agreement specifies that repossession is a possible consequence of your default.
Will I Be Notified Before the Repossession? How?
Under Connecticut law, your lender can choose to give you notice of an upcoming repossession, but notice isn’t required. Whether you receive notice, though, affects what rights you’ll have after the repossession.
If your lender chooses to notify you about the repossession, the notice must be in writing. It must be sent by certified or registered mail or delivered in person. The notice must include:
What you did (or didn’t do) that counts as a default.
What you must do to “cure the default.” Curing the default means making a payment or taking some other action to bring your loan back into good standing.
The deadline to cure the default. This deadline must be at least 10 days after you receive the notice. Your lender can’t repossess your vehicle until after this deadline passes. If you don’t cure the default by the deadline, your lender can repossess your car at any time.
An instruction to remove all your personal belongings from your vehicle before repossession.
A brief, clear summary of your rights going forward if your car is repossessed.
Your lender may also choose to repossess your car immediately after default, with no notice to you. If you aren’t present during the repossession, your lender must contact local law enforcement within two hours afterward and inform them about the repossession. Within three days after retaking your car, your lender must send you a written notice, either by hand delivery or certified mail. The notice must include:
The exact amount you need to pay to cure the default and bring your loan into good standing. This amount may include repossession and storage costs. Your lender must include an itemized statement of those costs. If your lender doesn’t send the notice or doesn’t include these costs, they can’t charge you these fees later.
The deadline to cure the default and get your car back. The deadline must be at least 15 days after you receive the notice. Your lender can’t sell the car or take the car out of the state of Connecticut before the deadline.
Instructions for how to retrieve any personal belongings that were in the car when it was repossessed.
How Can I Prevent a Repossession?
If your lender chooses to notify you before repossessing your vehicle, you can prevent the repossession by paying all past-due amounts and any unpaid interest before the deadline in the notice. If you’re behind on your payments and haven’t received any sort of notice, you can likely still cure the default by bringing your account current before your car is repossessed.
Even if you can’t afford to catch up on all your payments, or if your loan is current but you know you won’t be able to make your next payment, contact your lender and explain your situation. Ask what you can do to avoid default or prevent repossession. In most cases, you’ll have more options before your loan is in default, so it pays to be proactive.
What Can Repo Companies in Connecticut Do?
Auto repossession companies in Connecticut can take your car from any place, either public or private, at any time, but they can’t breach the peace to do so. A “breach of the peace” is a legal term. It isn’t defined in any Connecticut laws. Instead, in any given case, a judge must decide if someone’s actions breached the peace. In general, though, a repo agent can’t make excessive or disruptive noise, and they can’t threaten or harass you.
Repo agents also can’t use violence or force to repossess your vehicle. This means they can’t force you to exit a vehicle. They also can’t break a lock or use force to enter an enclosed space. In other words, a repo agent can enter your driveway, garage, or yard if they can do it without using force. But they can’t enter a closed or locked garage or gate. The rule against breaching the peace applies to you, as well. You can’t make excessive noise, use force or violence, or threaten the repo agent. If you do, you could face criminal charges.
Connecticut law doesn’t require repo agents to show you any type of license before repossessing your vehicle. If you’re present during the repossession, you can contact your lender to verify that the repossession was authorized. If you weren’t present when your car was taken, you can check with your local police department to verify that your vehicle was repossessed rather than stolen. Repo agents must report a repossession to local officials within two hours after any repossession where the owner isn’t present.
What About the Personal Property in My Car?
If you receive notice from your lender before the repossession, the notice must instruct you to remove all personal property from your vehicle before it’s repossessed. Even if you haven’t received this notice, it’s a good idea to remove your property from your car if you think it’s at risk of repossession. This will save you the hassle of getting your things back from the repo company after a repossession.
If your lender repossesses your car with no warning, then within three days afterward they must send you instructions for how and where to retrieve any property that was in the car. If you pick up your belongings within 15 days after the repossession, you won’t have to pay any retrieval or storage fees. After the 15 days have passed, you can still pick up your property for up to 60 days after the repossession, but you’ll likely have to pay a storage fee. Under state law, this fee can’t be more than $25. If you don’t pick up your property within 60 days, the repo company can sell or dispose of it.
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What Happens After a Repossession in Connecticut?
After a repossession, the lender must sell the repossessed vehicle at either a private sale or public auction. The sale must happen within 180 days after the repossession. At least 10 days before the sale, your lender must send you a written notice of intent telling you what they intend to do with your car.
If your lender intends to sell your car at a public sale, the notice must include the date, time, and place of the sale, plus a phone number you can call to get more information about the sale. You’re allowed to attend the sale and you can bid on your car. If your lender intends to sell your car at a private sale, the notice of intent doesn’t have to include the sale date, but it must include a cutoff date. Your lender can’t sell your car before this date. The cutoff date must be at least 15 days after the notice date.
Within 30 days after the sale, your lender must send you a statement telling you what your car sold for, as well as the fair market value of the car. Connecticut law provides a formula for calculating the fair market value of a vehicle. Your lender must apply the fair market value of your vehicle to your balance due. If your car sold for more than the fair market value, your lender must apply the actual resale price. If the fair market value or sale price isn’t enough to cover everything you owe, the remaining amount is called a deficiency balance.
Do I Still Owe After a Repossession in Connecticut?
Your lender will add all the costs of repossessing and selling your vehicle to your loan balance before deducting your car’s sale price or fair market value. These costs typically include:
Costs for towing, cleaning, and storing the car
Administrative charges and title fees
Advertising and auction expenses
Your lender must give you an itemized statement showing all these costs and charges if you request one. Usually, after these expenses are added to your balance, you’re upside-down on the loan. This means that you owe more than your car is worth. If the repossession leaves your loan upside-down, you’ll end up owing a deficiency balance. You’re responsible for paying this balance even though you don’t have the car anymore. If the purchase price of your car was less than $4,000, though, your lender can’t collect a deficiency from you.
If you’re behind on your car payments, you can voluntarily turn your car over to your lender instead of letting it be repossessed. You’ll still be responsible for paying any deficiency balance, but you’ll avoid having repossession and sale charges added to your debt.
Can I Get My Car Back After a Repossession in Connecticut?
If your lender repossessed your car without notice, you can get your car back by paying all your past-due payments, interest, and late fees, plus any repossession costs your lender incurred. Your lender must send you a statement of these charges and a payment deadline within three days after repossession. You must pay these amounts by the deadline to get your car back.
If you can’t pay the full amount to cure the default before the deadline, or if your lender gave you notice before the repossession, but you couldn’t cure the default before the repossession, you still have the right to redeem your loan after your car is repossessed. To redeem your loan, you must pay the entire loan balance — not just the past-due portion — plus any unpaid interest, late fees, and repo- and sale-related charges. To get your car back, you must pay this amount before the sale date or cutoff date listed in the notice of intent from your lender.