The Baldwin Company - Repossession Questions & Answers:


For all laws referred to in the Question and Answer section, please refer the California Vehicle & Civil Code, Business and Professions Code, Vehicle Code, Penal Code, Civil Code, California and the United States Constitution for further clarification. All laws contained within are subject to change. For further clarification The Baldwin Company recommends you consult with the above sources and/or legal counsel.

  1. FYI Impounded vehicle law changes effective Sept. 7, 2007 ( CVC 14602.6, 14602.7, 22850.5)
    These sections control the types of documents repossessors must produce in order to obtain the release of a vehicle from a police impound. Unfortunately, some storage yards acting on behalf of a law enforcement agency continue to demand more documentation than required by law. This effectively delays the releases of vehicles from impound and increases storage costs for debtors. The 2007 amendment clarifies that the same rules apply to all involved in the impound process.

    The impounding agency, within two working days of impoundment, shall send a notice by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the legal owner of the vehicle at the address obtained from the department, informing the owner that the vehicle has been impounded. Failure to notify the legal owner within two working days shall prohibit the impounding agency from charging for more than 15 days' impoundment when the legal owner redeems the impounded vehicle.

    No lien sale processing fees shall be charged to the legal owner who redeems the vehicle prior to the 15th day of impoundment.

    The legal owner or the legal owner's agent presents a copy of the assignment as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 7500.1 of the Business and Professions Code, and any one of the following: a certificate of repossession for the vehicle, a security agreement for the vehicle, or title showing proof of legal ownership for the vehicle. Any law enforcement agency, impounding agency, or any person acting on behalf of those agencies shall not require any documents other than those specified in California Vehicle Code 22850.5.
  2. FYI 30 Day hold impound storage to you the legal owner (VC 14602)
    The legal owner may secure early release of vehicles impounded with a 30 day hold. The legal owner MAY Not release a vehicle to the registered owner until the 30 days have expired from the date of impound.

    The reason for a 30 day hold is usually driving without a license or driving while a license is suspended or permitting someone else to drive your vehicle without a license.

    No vehicle may be released after the 30 day hold unless the registered owner produces a valid license or valid temporary license or brings someone with him or her who has a valid driver's license. It is the responsibility of the agency having custody of the vehicle to insure that this provision of the vehicle code is enforced.

    Once the 30 day hold has expired there are two requirements for releasing the vehicle after it has been repossess. The first is the registered owner pays a $15 fee to the police or sheriff's department having jurisdiction. The other requirement pertains to reason for the 30 day hold as described above.

    It is the legal owner's responsibility to make sure that these provisions of the vehicle code are being adhered to by those agencies having custody.
  3. Personal effects Q & A information (B&P 7507.9)
    (Q)
    What is to be done with personal effect or other personal property?
    • (A) Personal property shall be removed and a complete and accurate confidential inventory shall be made. Said items shall be securely stored for a minimum of 60 days. It is required that the repossession agency only notify the consumer of this inventory by written notice or by personal service within time limits prescribed by law (B&P 7507.9)
    (Q) May a repossession agency charge a fee for storing personal effects?
    • Yes. A licensee may charge the debtor for storing personal effects since B & P Code 7507.9 and 9(d) states in part, "The inventory shall include; an itemization of all personal effects and storage charges that will be made by the repossession agency". A licensee may not charge a legal owner for storage of personal effects unless specifically agreed to at the time of the assignment or at a subsequent time.
    (Q) Is it lawful for a repossessor to take or use personal effects that are connected to the collateral at the time of repossession?
    • (A) Yes. "Nothing prohibits the using or taking of personal effects that are connected, adjoined or affixed to the collateral through an unbroken sequence, if that use or taking is reasonably necessary to effectuate the recovery in a safe manner or to protect the collateral or personal effects". (B&P 7507.9)
  4. Maximum storage and repair fees: That can be charged to you by a repair garage/body shop (VC 10652.5)
    The maximum amount that can be charged to you, the legal owner, from a repair garage/body shop, airport parking garage, etc…:

    For Vehicle Repairs: The maximum of repairs are limited to $1,500 (unless you as the legal owner have authorized the repairs) (Civil Code 3068)

    For vehicle storage: A maximum of $1,025 if no lien sale was filed. A maximum of $1,250 if a lien sale was filed.

    For the above to collect $1,250 in storage charges from you, the legal owner, they are required to notify you by the 16th day of possession.

    If you, the legal owner, were not notified, the storage charges are limited to $1,025 (VC 10652.5 and Civil Code 3071 and 3072)

    The above does not apply to vehicles stored or impounded by a police agency.


  5. (Q) At what point has a motor vehicle been legally repossessed?
    • (A) With regard to collateral subject to registration under the Vehicle Code, repossession occurs when the repossessor gains entry to the collateral or when the collateral becomes connected to a tow truck. (B&P 7507)
  6. (Q) Is police notification required prior to an attempted repossession?
    • (A) NO! Some jurisdictions, however, request a courtesy call prior to a repossession to eliminate the possibility of a repossessor being stopped at gunpoint in the event someone telephones in a report of a stolen vehicle or a prowler.
  7. (Q) - Is a police report required on all repossessions?
    • (A) YES! Whenever possession is taken of any vehicle by or on behalf of any legal owner thereof under the terms of a security agreement or lease agreement, the person taking possession shall (a) notify, within one hour after taking possession of the vehicle, and by the most expeditious means available, the city police department where the taking of possession occurred, if within an incorporated city, or the sheriff's department of the county where the taking of the possession occurred, if outside an incorporated city, or the police department of a campus of the University of California or the California State University, if the taking of possession occurred on that campus, and shall within on business day forward a written notice to the city police or the sheriff's department. (b) Any person failing to notify the city police department, sheriff's department or campus police department as required by this section is guilty of an infraction, and shall be fined a minimum of $300 and up to $500. The district attorney, city attorney, or city prosecutor shall promptly notify the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services of any conviction resulting from a violation of this section. (VC 28)
  8. (Q) - Must licensees make condition reports of repossessions?
    • (A) YES! Repossession agencies are required to keep and maintain adequate records of all transactions including condition reports reflecting the condition of a vehicle at the time of repossession and its odometer reading. (B&P 7507.3)
  9. (Q) What is to be done with personal effects or personal property?
    • (A) Personal effects/property shall be removed and a complete and accurate confidential inventory shall be made. Said items shall be securely stored for a minimum of 60 days except those personal effects removed by or in the presence of the debtor or the party in possession of the collateral at the time of the repossession. It is required that the repossession agency notify the consumer of this inventory by written notice or by personal service within time limits prescribed by law. [B&P 7507.9]
  10. (Q) May a repossession agency charge a fee for storing personal effects? (Referring to inventory of effects from a repossession).
    • (A) YES. A licensee may charge the debtor for storing personal effects since B & P Code 7507.9 and 9(d) states in part, "The inventory shall include… an itemization of all personal effects removal and storage charges that will be made by the repossession agency." A licensee may not charge a legal owner for storage of personal effects unless specifically agreed to at the time of the assignment or at a subsequent time.
  11. (Q) When a vehicle has been impounded by a public agency, who should notify the legal owner?
    • (A) Within 48 hours of the storage, unless the vehicle is in a vehicle abatement program, or abandoned, the public agency is required to notify both legal and registered owners. (VC22852(a)) (VC10652.5)
  12. (Q) What is the maximum amount a repair garage may charge on a repair or storage to a legal owner?
    • (A) On work or services performed, up to $750 is allowed and the garage must have permission from the legal owner to exceed that amount. [Civil Code 3068(c)] Storage is allowed up to $400 for a vehicle under $4,000 in value and $500 if the vehicle is valued over $4,000.[Civil Code 3068(c)]. There is also a requirement to notify the legal owner by the 16th day of possession if storage fees are charged and if legal owner is not notified, storage is limited to 15 days. [Vehicle Code 10652.5 and Civil Code 3071 and 3072]
  13. (Q) Are there any reporting requirements when a vehicle is stored in a private building?
    • (A) YES. Every person other than the keeper of a garage renting any private building uses as a private garage or space therein for the storage of a vehicle of a type subject to registration under this code, when the agreement to rent includes only the building or space therein, shall, within 24 hours after the vehicle is stored therein, report such fact together with the name of the tenant and a description of the vehicle, including the name or make, the VIN and the license number to the sheriff's office of the county or the police department of the city wherein the building is located. "Private garage" as used in this section does not include a public warehouse or public garage. (VC 10654)
  14. (Q) Are there limits on the number of days storage can be charged to lien holders?
    • (A) YES. Civil Code 3068.1 limits public agency and private tows to a certain number of days chargeable for storage. A vehicle under $4,000 in value shall not accrue storage charges beyond the 15th day unless lien sale proceedings have commenced. If the lien is filed by the 15th day of possession, the storage is limited to 60 days. This would include a required notice to be signed by the legal owner before the 16th days of possession. [VC 10652.5] A vehicle with a value over $4,000, the lien shall commence by the 30th day of storage and allowing the storing party to collect for storage up to 120 days. If the lien sale commenced after 30 days-60 days of storage, then Vehicle Code 10652.5 applies and the storing party may only collect up to the 16th day of storage.
  15. (Q) May a Repossessor's Tow Vehicle be cited by law enforcement for violations of Vehicle Code Sections 25253(a), 27700, or 27907, which all pertain to a tow truck?
    • (A) NO. Vehicle Code sections 615(a) and (b) (definitions of "tow trucks") states a "tow truck" does not include a "repossessors tow vehicle".
  16. (Q) May a law enforcement officer force a repossessor to give up possession of an automobile or property?
    • (A) Peace officer may not advance or hinder repossessions. Because they are acting under "color of state law," they may no more force a debtor to surrender a car than they may, after a car has been repossessed, force the repossessor to return it. Without a court order, both things violate the "due process" requirements of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Sections 13 and 15 of the California Constitution.
  17. (Q) Can the repossessor take personal effects that are attached to the repossessed collateral?
    • (A) YES. Nothing in this chapter prohibits the using or taking of personal effects that are connected, adjoined, or affixed to the collateral through an unbroken sequence, if that use or taking is reasonable necessary to effectuate the recovery in a safe manner or to protect the collateral or personal effects". (B& P 7505.2)





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