Can a Landlord hold and auction a vehicle that is under a loan?

My husband and I fell behind on our rent for two months because of major financial problems. Our landlord took us to court for which we admitted owing the money. The judge told our landlord that she could garnish our wages, which we have no contest to. However, our landlord wants to hold and auction our personal property, namely our car. Can she hold and auction our car if there’s a loan on it and the bank holds the title? Someone told me that she could put a lien on the car’s loan, but cannot take the car. So what can she do to our car? Can she take it , or only put a lien on it?

Asked on December 13, 2010 under Real Estate Law, West Virginia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

So what happened was that your landlord was given a judgement against you for the rent that was back owed, correct?  She can collect on the judgement in different ways: garnishment is one, a levy on bank accounts is another and the sale of personal property is another.  If she chooses to go after the car her judgement would be secondary to the primarylien holder, the bank.  She would only get the money that was left after the bank was paid off.  And the way cars depreciate that seems a foolish path.  Speak with an attorney in your area about this and what you can do to stop her.  Certain items are exempt from the attachment by a creditor and although your car is probably not one of them maybe an argument could be made that losing it loses your ability to work? Thant might do it. Good luck. 

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