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Dwayne B.
Dwayne B., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 32595
Experience:  Practicing for over 20 years and handled many cases and trials for consumers.
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I have a question about a deficiency balance after

Customer Question

I have a question about a deficiency balance after repossession in Virginia. I purchased furniture last year and was unable to pay for it. I tried to arrange something with the store but they took me to court. They took the furniture in December last year. I wasn't given any opportunity to buy it back at an auction or anything like that. They say they threw it out for stains without telling me first. Am I still responsible for the remaining balance?
Thanks so much!!
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 7 months ago.

Hello and thank you for contacting us. This is Dwayne B. and I’m an expert here and looking forward to assisting you today. If at any point any of my answers aren’t clear please don’t hesitate to ask for clarification. Also, I can only answer the questions you specifically ask and based on the facts that you give so please be sure that you ask the questions you want to ask and provide all necessary facts. Please note: This is general information for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No specific course of action is proposed herein, and no attorney-client relationship or privilege is formed by speaking to an expert on this site. By continuing, you confirm that you understand and agree to these terms.

I think you can challenge the amount.

They have an obligation to try and sell the furniture for something at least and then the difference between that amount and what you owe is the correct amount for which to sue you.

The only place you can challenge it is in the court. That can be either through a lawsuit you file against them seeking a declaratory judgment from the judge saying you don't owe anything or as a counter-claim if they sue you.

If your question has been answered then I'd offer my best wishes to you and ask that you please not forget to leave a Positive Rating so I receive credit for my work.

Of course, please feel free to ask any follow up questions in this thread. I want to be sure that all of your questions are answered. In addition, once you issue your Positive Rating the question will lock open and you can come back to it anytime in the future if you think of something else.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
in Virginia they MUST at least try to sell it for some amount?
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 7 months ago.

Yes, or retain it and present expert testimony as to it not being worth anything. They shouldn't be able to just throw it out.

If they sue you then you probably want to hire lawyer to assist with at least this argument. You need a lot of legal research done and the motions presented in the right way.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
She said they no longer have it, and they were unable to sell it and recover any money at all. I asked if she took pictures, and she said no.
Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 7 months ago.

There is a document from VA Legal Aid at http://www.valegalaid.org/files/E095B726-FCD8-81C1-17DC-A16C7ED73FFF/attachments/4AA6FD3F-8EF9-4E2F-98AC-7DD8475D02D5/repossessions-and-deficiency-judgments.pdf

They explain what must happen after repossession this way (which is a good job of explaining):

After your property has been repossessed, a creditor can decide to keep it as full payment of your debt, or to resell it. A creditor must tell you in writing if it wants to keep your property as full payment of your debt. If you disagree, you have the right to demand that your property be sold instead. Most creditors prefer to sell your property. If so, a creditor must tell you these things in a written notice. • Your name and the creditor’s name. • A description of your property. • How they plan to sell your property. • Your right to a statement of charges and payments (an accounting) • The time & place of any public sale, or the time after which there will be a private sale. • A phone number to call to find out how much you must pay to get back your property. • A phone number to call to find out more about the sale. The notice also must tell you that the money from the sale will reduce the amount you owe. If the creditor gets less money than you owe, then you will owe the difference. If the creditor gets more money than you owe, then you will get the extra money, unless the creditor must pay it to someone else.

Expert:  Dwayne B. replied 7 months ago.

The key is they must try and get "fair market value" (FMV) for your property. FMV is what a willing buyer will pay a willing seller and an auction almost always fits this description.

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