Is it legal for a towing company that repossessed my car to withhold my personal propertyuntil I pay a fee?

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Is it legal for a towing company that repossessed my car to withhold my personal propertyuntil I pay a fee?

My car was repossessed in AZ. The repo company refuses to return my personal items to me without the post of a heavy fee. The company never informed me of such a fee after the vehicle was towed. They never made contact with me. They are charging me for “storing” the personal items that were in my vehicle since the day of the tow. It’s a per day charge. Is this legal? I risk losing hundreds of dollars of items if I do not pay the fee. And I cannot afford the fee. So I now lose rights to my personal property?

Asked on August 2, 2011 Arizona

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Most likely the towing company is authorized by your state's statute to charge you a "reasonable storage fee" for personal items contained in the vehicle that it towed when it was repossessed to safeguard the personal items that were within the vehicle. The reasonableness of the fee depends upon what items were placed in safe keeping and the type of storage facility used for your personal property.

This fee is separate that the fee you agreed to pay when you signed the loan for your vehicle in the event the car was repossessed.

You need to speak with the person in charge of the towing compant as to how the items are being stored and where. If on site and in a small locker contained at the facility, a charge of more than $10.00 a day seems excessive. However, I do not know what items are being stored.

The repossession company's excessive charge could be perceived as an unfair business practice potentially in violation of your state's laws. California has laws against unfair business practices. You might wish to consult with a business attorney over the items that seem to be held "hostage" by the repossession company.

Good luck.

 


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