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legalgems, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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I have a car that a friend bought. I put the person as the

Customer Question

I have a car that a friend bought for me. I put the person as the lienholder. Sadly this person(the Lienholder) became hooked on drugs. I have a email stating the car was paid off months ago but the lost the title. Now that person wants to repo the vehicle. State is Arizona. Car is kept in a garage on a gated complex. My understanding is that in order to repo the vehicle this has to go through the courts?? There is no contract between us. Just the email.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

The individual can do a repossession so long as there is not a breach of the peace; here is the statute:

47-9609. Secured party's right to take possession after default

A. After default, a secured party:

1. May take possession of the collateral; and

2. Without removal, may render equipment unusable and dispose of collateral on a debtor's premises under section 47-9610.

B. A secured party may proceed under subsection A of this section:

1. Pursuant to judicial process; or

2. Without judicial process, if it proceeds without breach of the peace.

C. If so agreed, and in any event after default, a secured party may require the debtor to assemble the collateral and make it available to the secured party at a place to be designated by the secured party that is reasonably convenient to both parties.

However, if one wrongfully repossesses and it can be proven that the lien was paid off (ie canceled checks, email statements, etc) then the person wrongfully repossessing can be liable for the damages suffered, along with punitive damages.

However, the secured creditor must have a written contract that provides when repossession can occur - ie at what stage of default. So if the written contract does not specify, or there is no written contract, self help repo is not a remedy and one would need to sue for breach of contract (which could be defeated by showing payment).

One can send a demand letter ordering the person to cease and desist any action contrary to one's ownership in the vehicle, and can also request a release of the lien. If they fail to do so, one can bring a court action for specific performance (signing off on the replacement title) or can sue for breach of contract (ie return the car, and the other person returns all monies paid).

these statutes are here:

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Information provided is for educational purposes only. Consultation with a personal attorney is always recommended so your particular facts may be considered. Thank you and take care.

Expert:  legalgems replied 1 year ago.

Checking in to see on the above; thank you for using Just Answer.