It wouldn’t seem like rules and laws for repossession should change much from state to state. It's pretty basic – you fall behind with your car payments, then a tow truck shows up in your driveway. The reality is, there are lots of little nuances to the law that can make the repossession process easier or more difficult for both the vehicle owner and the lender. Louisiana law allows lenders to move forward with repossession without first getting court approval, but your loan contract must specifically allow for repossession, and the lender must use a repo agent that is licensed in the state.
Written Notice Responsibilities
You’re entitled to notice of the repossession under Louisiana law, and the statutory requirements for this are pretty specific. The notice must include a statement in no less than 12-point type that the lender is entitled take your vehicle without further notice or judicial process. You must be at least 30 days late with your payment – your lender can’t come collect your car just hours after your payment was due. The lender has 30 days after taking your car to file a Notice of Repossession with the Recorder of Mortgages in your parish.
Breach of the Peace Laws
Like other states, Louisiana law forbids repossession agents from breaching the peace when attempting to take your car. A repo agent can only take your vehicle from a public roadway or parking lot. He can’t take it from your driveway or garage without your consent. This rule doesn’t particularly afford you a lot of protection, however, because if you send him away empty-handed, your lender can involve the court if it chooses to. It can get an order forcing you to relinquish the collateral – your car – and have it served upon you by law enforcement. This typically happens with the repossession agent and his tow truck waiting at the curb.
Personal Property Rules
If you don’t have time to gather your personal property from your vehicle before it’s repossessed, such as because it’s taken from a parking lot while you’re inside a store shopping, you have 10 days to notify your lender that you want it back. Your lender must make arrangements to return it to you. Otherwise, Louisiana law considers your property abandoned after 30 days. The repossession agent should leave the license plates with you unless your car was leased. In this case, they stay with the car.
Sale of the Vehicle
As in most states, the lender will sell your car after taking it back. It must send you a Notice of Sale first, and a Notice of Disposition after the sale if it wants to hold you responsible for any deficiency balance, which would occur if the vehicle sells for less than what you owe on it. In such a scenario, you may be held accountable for paying the difference.
Beverly Bird has been writing professionally for over 30 years. She is also a paralegal, specializing in areas of personal finance, bankruptcy and estate law. She writes as the tax expert for The Balance.