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Handling Personal Property

property found in repossessed car boxed and stored

Personal Property

Repossession companies have to be careful with personal property that is found in the cars they pick up. If property is mishandled, damaged or lost, it could cost your company money. You need to make sure that you follow your state laws as well as the lender’s contractual agreement with you when it comes to personal property. You need to do a detailed inventory of all personal property found in the vehicle. Place all of the personal effects found in a cardboard box and label the box with the debtor’s name, the lender and the date that the vehicle was recovered. You can also put the date that the property can be disposed of on the box as well. You should have a room, semi trailer, shipping container or even an old school bus to store the property in. I used an old school bus that I got for $100 and was able to store property alphabetically by labeling the seats with letters. Whatever you use to store your property, make sure it is dry and secure. Of course, large amounts of cash or valuable jewelry need to be stored in a more secure area such a safe.

repo storage container

Documentation And Secure Storage Will Protect You

To avoid problems with personal property, I recommend that you keep it longer than what is required. If you are required to keep it 60 days, then keep 120 days. Send the debtor a certified letter informing them that you have property that was in the vehicle you repossessed from them. In the letter, you should states that you are only keeping the property for as long as the state requires and list the date that the items will be disposed of or donated to charity. Even then, keep it longer, because debtors always show up to get their “important” papers or valuable the day after you donated the stuff to Amvets. I had people that called me two years after we recovered their car and expected us to still have their property.

I have known some repo companies that were very sloppy with personal property and it ended up costing them money. There needs to be a written record when debtors redeem personal property. The debtor should be the only person allowed to redeem property, not their mother or father, boyfriend, friend or anyone else. The debtor needs to come in, present either their state ID or driver’s license in order to get their property. Once they are identified as the debtor, they need to sign a dated document that they received their property. The document should list all of the property that was inventoried and boxed up. This will prevent people from making claims of lost or stolen property and will help prevent your company from paying a settlement in the event of a lawsuit.

Once you are past the date that you are required to keep the debtor's property, then you may donate it to charity. Make sure that you obtain a receipt from the charitable organization that you donated the items too. This will be documentation of how you disposed of the property and could be used as a possible tax write off for your company.

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