Can a tire/wheel rent-to-own company remove unpaid for property from a vehicle?

My wife and I let our son-in-law borrow our car. A few days after he had it, he destroyed all 4 tires and wheels and told us that he would replace them. We finally received our car back but found out later on that he has a contract with a rent to own tire/wheel company and hasn’t made any payments towards the merchandise. Can that company legally file theft charges or repossess the items if the vehicle is titled in my name and we never gave him permission to enter into that contract?

Asked on May 9, 2017 under Business Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Of course they can repossess the items: you have no  right to keep another's property without their consent and/or paying for it. So if the wheels are not paid for, they can take them back--the wheels belong to them, not you.
They can file theft charges against your son for taking their wheels without (evidently) an intention to pay for them; and if you deliberately try to keep them (keep another's property) after knowing that you have no right to it (e.g. after the ask for them back), that trying to wrongfully keep another's property could potentially let them file theft charges against you, too.
They could also sue your son-in-law for breach of contract, for all the money due under the agreement.
You could sue your son-in-law for any amounts this wrongful act ends up costing you, and/or for the value of the tires and wheels he destroyed in the first  place.

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