If you default on your auto payments, the amount of time you have before repossession depends on the contract you signed with the lender. How the lender repossesses it and what it does with the automobile afterward depends on Nebraska state law, which is silent regarding in regards to if the lender can sue you if it resells the car for less than you owe on it. The state is debtor-friendly about giving you time to pay what you owe and reclaim the car before it is sold, however.
For a lender to repossess your vehicle in Nebraska, its name must appear on the title as lien-holder, and it must record the title either in the county where you live or the county where you keep the vehicle, if you're not actually a resident of Nebraska. Therefore, if you purchase the vehicle while living in one state, then relocate with the vehicle to Nebraska, you might have some minimal protection, at least until the lender re-records the deed in the county where you live.
State law requires that the lender can’t “breach the peace” when repossessing your car, but the legislation doesn’t detail exactly what constitutes a breach of peace. Generally, it includes taking the car over your objections, using threats or force, or removing or trying to remove your car from a closed or locked garage. Your license plates are yours, and the repo agent must leave them with you. Nebraska is one of only 10 states that will not permit repossession until after you have received a notice from the lender giving you a certain amount of time to “cure” your default and pay off your delinquent balance.
Once the lender has possession of your car, it will most likely sell it to recoup at least some of your outstanding loan balance. But Nebraska does not allow the lien-holder to do this until 20 days have passed, which is more time than other states give a debtor. If you can come up with the entire balance due, plus any costs incurred in the repossession process, you can redeem your car. If you can't come up with the money and the lender sells it to repay the loan you contracted for, the company can usually sue you for any deficiency or difference between your loan balance and what the car sold for. The requirements the lender must meet to do this should be included in your contract. Nebraska legislation contains no rules for deficiency judgments.
It is always much easier to prevent a repossession than to get your car back after the lender has taken it back. If you think you might have a problem making your car payments, contact the lender immediately to see if the company will work with you to get back on track. Don't hide the car to avoid repossession; this is a crime. If the lender has already taken your car, consult with an attorney and show him your loan agreement to find out if the lien-holder can hold you liable for any deficiency resulting from the resale. Make sure the company has met all legal requirements in taking it the vehicle. While you probably won't be able to get your car back, you may be able to escape any liability for a deficiency if the company broke any rules.
- Repo-Laws.com: Nebraska Repo Laws
- Carreon and Associates: Your Repossession Rights
- Repo Madness; How Automobile Repossessions Endanger Owners, Agents and the Public; John W. Van Alst and Rick Jurgens (PDF)
- Federal Trade Commission. "Vehicle Repossession." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "If I Can’t Make My Auto Loan Payments, Will My Vehicle Be Repossessed?" Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "What to Know if Your Car Is Repossessed." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Los Angeles County Consumer & Business Affairs. "Vehicle Repossessions." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Experian. "How Long Does It Take for a Repossession to Come off Your Credit?" Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Association of the Bar of the City of New York. "Repossession." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Experian. "Collection Accounts for Repossessed Car in Credit Report." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "My Car Has Been Repossessed, and I Was Told It Will Be Sold. What Can I Do?" Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Justia. "Vehicle Repossessions and Bankruptcy." Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. "What Happens If I Left Some of My Personal Possessions in My Vehicle When It Was Repossessed?" Accessed April 7, 2020.
- Georgia Consumer Protection Division. "Repo Company Charging to Return Belongings Left in Vehicle." Accessed April 7, 2020.
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.