Missouri Title Loan Repossession Laws – What You Need to Know Before You Owe

Consumers who have bad credit and own their vehicle, may often consider a title loan when in a financial crunch. However, before placing your vehicle up as collateral for a loan, it’s important to consider the consequences if you fail to repay it. By Missouri law, failure to repay the loan entitles the lender to repossess the vehicle, but there are specific policies lenders must abide by during the repossession process.

According to the Division of Finance, which regulates Missouri title loan companies, the loan must be 10 days past due before any action can be taken. So a late payment that is only 5 days past due, will not result in repossession or the threat of repossession.

Once the loan is 10 days past due, the lender is required to send out the “Notice of Default and Right to Cure.” This notice states the payment amount due and the deadline to make the payment. It also gives a warning that failure to make payment by the deadline could result in the lender exercising their right to repossess the vehicle.

Missouri law requires that the deadline to make the payment be a minimum of 20 days. Allowing customers at least 20 days to cure the default, after the loan is 10 days past due, provides Missouri residents a minimum of 30 days to make payment. Compared to other states, this is a considerable length of time to remedy a default.

During the course of the loan, if the borrower is late making payment a second time, the lender is required to wait 10 days and then send out a “Second Notice of Default and Right to Cure.” This notice provides the same information as well as the same 20 day grace period as the first notice, but there is one additional warning. The warning states that if the borrower is late a third time, they will not receive another notice, nor will they be entitled to “cure the default.”

Failure to make payment after the grace period will result in repossession of the vehicle. Missouri regulations require lenders to send borrowers notification that they intend to sell the vehicle and then allow at least 10 days for the borrower to repay the loan in full and thereby redeem the vehicle. If the borrower fails to redeem the vehicle after 10 days, then the lender is entitled to sell the property.

Lenders are entitled to the profits from the sale of the vehicle in order to cover the unpaid balance of the loan and other financing expenses. Title loan companies can also use the proceeds from the sale to cover their repossession costs, or any other repairs or expenses associated with the vehicle.

However, Missouri law protects borrowers in that lenders who have covered their expenses from the sale of the vehicle, are required to “return the excess funds to the customer.” Conversely, if there is a deficit amount after the sale of the vehicle, the borrower is required to pay that amount in full. Lenders are also entitled to charge interest on this amount.

The Ins and Outs of the Car Repossession Process

When a lender finances a car, they retain the right to repossess it if the repayment terms are not paid as agreed. Each state’s laws set limitations on lenders repossessing automobiles. Most states repossession laws are modeled after article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC). Article 9 states that you must be in default on a loan before the repossession process can begin. The definition of default will be disclosed in the financial loan repayment agreement. Most loans have language stating a default starts after one, two, or three missed payments. Once the loan is in default according to the financial agreement documents, the lender has the right to take possession of the car. In most states, once the auto loan falls 90 days behind, the lender may reclaim the car. For specific terms of the loan and any repossession actions, please refer to the financial loan repayment agreement; which is signed by the purchaser of the car.

The lender can pick up the car from any location including: (1) your home, (2) work, or (3) other place where it is being stored. In most states, the lender can take the car without a court order. Although, many state laws specify a car can only be repossessed if the lender can do so without “breaching the peace”. The term “breach of peace” means that the lender is able to obtain possession of the car without any threat to the borrower or use of force. A breach of peace could be as simple as the borrower telling the creditor they will not cooperate. If force or threats are used to gain possession of the car the lender may be liable for any damages caused from the repossession. The lender, at this point, must seek judicial permission. They must document the default and wait for the court to issue permission to repossess the car. Once the court gives permission to repossess the car, the lender will likely request that the local police assist in the repossession. Once the creditor has control of the car they can repair it if they choose before selling the car..

When the lender takes possession, they must give notice to the borrower of their intent to sell the car. At this point the borrower’s only option would be to pay the loan and additional costs associated with repossessing the car in full. If the borrower chooses not to pay the loan and costs prior to the notified date of sale, the car can be sold at auction. If the creditor sells the car for less than the balance of the original loan then they can file a deficiency judgment against the borrower for the difference. In order for the creditor to put a deficiency judgment against the borrower the car must be sold commercially (no private sales).

For a car repossession, or in any legal matter, it is in the best interest of the borrower (defendant) to seek legal counsel.