WHAT IS REPOSSESSION?
When you buy goods on credit, (for example a car) often the money loaned to you is secured by a mortgage over the goods. The lender takes the goods as security so the lender can take them from you and sell them if you default in paying the loan.
WHEN CAN THE LENDER REPOSSESS THE GOODS?
Goods bought on credit can only be repossessed if:
A COURT ORDER TO REPOSSESS THE GOODS IS REQUIRED IF:
The mortgaged goods are on private property and you have not agreed in writing to the lender entering that property to take the goods; and/or
Where a large part of the loan (75% or more) has been repaid and the amount now owing is less than $10,000.
CAN THE LENDER TAKE A MORTGAGE OVER MY ESSENTIAL HOUSEHOLD PROPERTY?
For loans granted after 1 July 2010, credit providers cannot take a mortgage over your essential household goods to secure the loan. Essential household goods include kitchen equipment, fridge, freezer, beds, tv, stereo, washing machine, dryer, educational equipment for children (e.g. a computer), baby equipment, and video recorder.
Property used by the mortgagor in earning income by personal exertion (tools of trade) are also unable to be used as security if they are valued below the limit in the bankruptcy regulations ($3,750 as at January 2017 – for the latest amount go to the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) website and select current amounts from the bankruptcy menu).
If the loan is used to purchase a particular item, for example, a computer, then the lender can take a mortgage over the item being purchased only.
When you receive a Default Notice
You need to take action as soon as you receive a default notice from the lender. The default notice will give you at least 30 days from the date of the notice to pay any arrears owing (the amount you are behind on repayments).
If you pay the arrears AND your usual repayment within the time given in the default notice (at least 30 days) then the loan returns to normal and the lender cannot take any further action. This is the best option if you can do it.
If you fail to pay the arrears in the default notice then the lender can:
If you cannot pay the whole amount claimed in the default notice you need to:
If you are struggling to pay multiple Debts always give First priority to and make sure First Home Loans or Rent are kept on time. Second a secured Car Loan is kept up to date. If you only have enough income for these that’s what you pay. Cards, Personal Loans can be handled Later. You need a roof over your head and normally a vehicle to get to work or move family around. This also puts you into a better position if we need to look at Debt consolidation into a home loan, extending a car Loan to reduce payments or a Debt Solution involving Unsecured Debts. Call Money Buckets for more detail.
IMPORTANT: If the lender agrees to a repayment arrangement then this should stop any further action. If you believe you have an agreement and the lender is threatening to repossess your goods anyway see below.
If the lender will not agree to a repayment arrangement you should then lodge a dispute in writing in an External Dispute Resolution Scheme (EDR), the Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA). The lender must be a member of the AFCA scheme, which is free and will stop all legal action, which means that the lender cannot repossess your goods until your dispute has been considered.
REMEMBER: Lodging in AFCA should be used to negotiate a repayment arrangement with the lender where you can put the loan back in order. If you think you will not be able to catch up you need to get legal advice.
HELP, THE LENDER IS THREATENING TO REPOSSESS MY CAR!
You should follow the same steps as above but if the lender is threatening to repossess straight away (or a repo agent is looking for you) you should lodge a dispute with AFCA immediately, and park the car on private property in a garage until you have lodged with AFCA. You should still contact the lender to try and negotiate a repayment arrangement. Let the lender know you have lodged with AFCA.
HELP, THE REPO MAN IS AT THE DOOR!
The lender does not have the right to enter on private property to repossess the car/goods without your written consent or a court order. If they try to repossess explain that they cannot repossess without a court order.
If you have agreed to the repossession you should also:
When the goods have been repossessed check the value. For example, in the case of a car, look in local trading newspapers to see what other cars of similar age and condition are being sold for or check online for car values.
WHAT CAN I DO AFTER MY CAR/GOODS HAVE BEEN REPOSSESSED?
The lender must serve you a written notice within 14 days of the repossession of the car/goods stating:
If you pay the amount of the arrears, the enforcement expenses and your normal repayment (if it is due during the notice period) the lender must return the goods to you. If the enforcement expenses claimed seem too high, check your contract and get legal advice. If you can get back on track, but cannot pay the amounts required within the 21 days, you can apply for a hardship variation. If this is the case you need to lodge a dispute with AFCA urgently. If you lodge a dispute with AFCA after the car has been repossessed but before it has been sold, the lender cannot sell the car until AFCA has considered your dispute.
SALE OF GOODS
If full payment is not made within 21 days, the lender must sell the goods as soon as possible for the best price reasonably obtainable.
Once the goods are sold, the lender must send you a notice stating:
WARNING: Once the goods have been sold all of the remainder of the loan that is owed becomes due to be paid immediately. The lender does not have to agree to any repayment arrangement.
But now the balance owing of the Car Repossession Debt, is an unsecured Debt and can be put into a Part IX Debt Agreement with other unsecured Debts to be voted on. We can also negotiate to have this Debt put in with the rest of the unsecured Debt in an Informal arrangement.
If you Declare Bankrupt, a Repossession Debt can be included in the Bankruptcy.
Contact Money Buckets to have this resolved.
You can also complain to AFCA if the lender has not sold the goods for the best price reasonably obtainable, or you believe the enforcement expenses added to the loan have not been reasonably incurred. You will need evidence to support your complaint. You will not get the goods back!
Customer Enquiries: 1800 825 010
Admin Office: 0243696287
Post: PO Box 6100, Kincumber, NSW, 2251
Money Buckets ™ is a Trademark of Starlight Home Loans T/as Fast Debt Help
ABN: 94 145 613 056
Credit Lic 388809
MFAA membership 319292
Affiliates: Second Step Administration RDAA 1668
The Rite Place Pty Ltd trading as Debtrite