Massachusetts bill would require notifications before repossessing leased vehicles

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Of all the consumer complaints sent to NewsCenter 5, cars are by far the biggest problem. The same goes for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, which receives about 3,000 car-related complaints each year. Now there’s a new effort to close some of the legal loopholes that put car sellers instead of car buyers in the driver’s seat. After hiking Wachusett Dam in Clinton in the fall of 2020, Noel Edgren returned to find his parking spot empty, his car missing. “My driver’s license, my debit card, my money, my purse, everything was in the car,” she said. “So I called the police because I couldn’t call a cab, I couldn’t call an Uber. My mask was in my car. I had nothing.” But the police knew exactly where Edgren’s Chevy Cruz was. “They told me the car had been repossessed and was in Leominster,” she said. But due to an administrative error, GM thought it was months late. Yet the company gave Edgren no notice or chance to fix it. Although it might not seem fair, it is legal in Massachusetts. Leasing companies are not required to inform you before repossessing your vehicle. “If these cars are repossessed without notice or the right to cure, that’s a problem.” Sen. Feeney is now sponsoring a bill that would change that, requiring advance notice before a leased vehicle is repossessed, similar to what is required for financed cars. The bill — S.2323 — would also make what it says are several other common-sense changes to Massachusetts consumer law regarding cars. For example, state law says buyers have seven days from the date of sale to have a car inspected and if it breaks down and requires expensive repairs, buyers are entitled to a refund. But Senator Feeney says some unreputable used-car dealerships circumvent this by holding on to a car for several days after the paperwork is signed. “There will be delays, and they’ll say, ‘We’re trying to get the car ready,’” Senator Feeney said. “They know very well that the car will probably fail an inspection. And six days, seven days later, the consumer picks up that car, it’s just too late. “The bill simply changes the language of state law from date of sale to date of delivery.” If you have a car that fails an inspection that becomes unusable right after paying a huge sum of money, it could lead to financial ruin,” said Senator Feeney. “Under this bill, the time will not start turning over for the consumer until they take delivery of the vehicle.” Massachusetts law also requires dealerships to offer warranty on used cars under 125,000 miles. But since Today’s cars are driven further, this bill would increase that requirement to 200,000 miles.

Of all the consumer complaints sent to NewsCenter 5, cars are by far the biggest problem.

The same goes for the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, which receives about 3,000 car-related complaints each year.

Now there’s a new effort to close some of the legal loopholes that put car sellers instead of car buyers in the driver’s seat.

After hiking Wachusett Dam in Clinton in the fall of 2020, Noel Edgren returned to find his parking spot empty, his car gone.

“My driver’s license, my debit card, my money, my purse, everything was in the car,” she said. “So I called the police because I couldn’t call a cab, I couldn’t call an Uber. My mask was in my car. I had nothing.”

But the police knew exactly where Edgren’s Chevy Cruz was.

“They told me the car had been recovered and was in Leominster,” she said.

Edgren leased the car to GM and the company took it back even though she was up to date on payments. But due to an administrative error, GM thought it was months late. Yet the company gave Edgren no notice or chance to fix it.

Although it might not seem fair, it is legal in Massachusetts. Leasing companies are not required to notify you before repossessing your vehicle.

“It really came as a surprise to us and we heard from consumers across the Commonwealth like you,” said Democratic Senator Paul Feeney. “If these cars are repossessed without notice or the right to cure, that’s a problem.”

Senator Feeney is now sponsoring a bill that would change that, requiring advance notice before a leased vehicle is repossessed, similar to what is required for financed cars. The bill — S.2323 — would also make what it says are several other common-sense changes to Massachusetts consumer law regarding cars.

For example, state law says buyers have seven days from the date of sale to have a car inspected and if it breaks down and requires expensive repairs, buyers are entitled to a refund. But Senator Feeney says some unreputable used-car dealerships circumvent this by holding on to a car for several days after the paperwork is signed.

“There will be delays, and they’ll say, ‘We’re trying to get the car ready,'” Senator Feeney said. “They know very well that the car will probably fail an inspection. And six days, seven days later, the consumer takes that car, it’s just too late.”

The bill simply changes the language of state law from date of sale to date of delivery.

“If you have a car that fails an inspection and becomes unusable right after paying a huge amount of money, it could lead to financial ruin,” Senator Feeney said. “Under this bill, the countdown will not begin for the consumer until they have taken delivery of the vehicle.”

Massachusetts law also requires dealerships to offer warranty on used cars under 125,000 miles. But since today’s cars are driven further, this bill would increase that requirement to 200,000 miles.

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