What to Do with Personal Property Found in a Repossessed Vehicle


So you have repo'd your borrower’s motor vehicle and discovered that she left a laptop, some dirty socks and a picture of Uncle Joe asleep on the sofa in the back seat. "No problem," you say. You just toss out the dirty socks and the picture of Uncle Joe and sell the laptop to help make up the deficit in the loan balance after you sell the vehicle, right?

Not so fast.

The Tennessee Legislature has weighed in with the passage of a new statute – Public Chapter No. 784, effective April 24, 2014, to be codified as T.C.A. § 47-50-113. Pursuant to this new law, you may not sell or otherwise dispose of personal property found in or on a repossessed vehicle for a period of 14 days; and the owner has the right to reclaim the personal property within the 14-day period without paying any fees or charges. (The statute does not define "owner", such that it is not yet clear whether this right belongs to the "owner" of the personal property or the "owner" of the repossessed vehicle, to the extent these are different parties.)

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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