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Facing Car Repossession in Wisconsin? Understanding Your Rights and Options

Falling behind on car payments can be a stressful experience, and the threat of repossession adds another layer of worry. If you reside in Wisconsin and are facing car repossession, understanding the legal process and your rights is crucial. This blog post aims to provide a general overview of the car repossession process in Wisconsin, but it is not a substitute for legal advice.

When Can Repossession Happen?

In Wisconsin, your lender can only repossess your car if you are in “default” on your loan agreement. This typically means you are more than 10 days late on more than one full monthly payment. However, the specific definition of default might vary depending on your loan agreement.

Before Repossession: The Right to Cure

Before the lender can repossess your car, they are legally obligated to send you a written notice called a “right to cure notice” by mail. This notice informs you of the alleged default and your right to bring your loan current within 15 days of receiving the notice. To “cure” the default, you need to pay all missed payments and any associated late fees.

Wisconsin Repossession Laws and Procedures

Once the 15-day cure period has passed, the lender has two options to repossess your car:

  • Self-help repossession: They can repossess the car without a court order, as long as they follow specific legal guidelines. These include:
    • Repossessing the car from a public place like a parking lot or street. They cannot take it from a private property like your garage or driveway without your permission or a court order.
    • Avoiding a breach of peace. They cannot use force or threats of violence during the repossession.
    • Providing you with a written notice within 10 days of repossession, informing you of your rights, including the right to redeem the car.
  • Court-ordered repossession: The lender can file a lawsuit and obtain a court order to repossess the car. This process may take longer but allows the lender to repossess the car from any location, including your private property.

What Happens After Repossession in Wisconsin?

After the car is repossessed, the lender will store it in a secure location. You have the legal right to redeem your car by paying the full amount owed on the loan, plus any towing and storage fees.

However, if you don’t redeem the car within a certain timeframe (typically 30 days), the lender will sell the car at an auction. The proceeds from the sale will be used to pay off the remaining loan balance, and any leftover amount might be returned to you. If the sale doesn’t cover the entire loan amount, you may still be responsible for the deficiency.

Protecting Yourself from Repossession in Wisconsin

If you are facing car repossession, it’s crucial to act quickly. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Contact your lender immediately: Explain your situation and explore options like payment extensions or loan modifications.
  • Seek legal advice: An experienced attorney can guide you through your rights and options, including negotiating with the lender or filing for bankruptcy protection.
  • Explore alternatives: Consider selling the car yourself to pay off the loan balance and avoid repossession.

Remember: This blog post is for general informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice. If you are facing car repossession in Wisconsin, it’s highly recommended to consult with a qualified attorney to discuss your specific situation and receive tailored legal guidance.

Feel free to reach out below to discuss your options.

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