States have taken actions to combat the spread of the Coronavirus which seem to greatly impact the repossession industry. In California, Governor Newsom signed a stay-at-home order requiring all Californians to stay in their place of residence except as needed to maintain continuity of operations of federal critical infrastructure sectors, including the financial services sector. In accordance with the order, the State Public Health Officer has designated a list of “Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers.” As far as the financial services sector, several workers are listed as "essential", but none of them seem to cover debt collection or repossessions.
Can a physical car repossession still happen while the stay-at-home order is in effect? Though this issue has not been litigated in the courts as of yet, the answer strongly appears to be "no", and a repossession while the stay-at-home order is in effect should be deemed a breach of the peace. By not specifically exempting workers in the collection or collateral recovery aspects of the financial sector as "essential", the California stay-at-home order arguably is meant to cease all physical car repossessions, since such activity involves violating the letter of the stay-at-home order (by going outside without being "essential"), as well as the spirit of the order, because could result in in-person contact (which the stay-at-home order is meant to stop).
Other states, like Washington, have issued orders and designations similar to California. Thus, the arguable bar to physical car repossessions could apply in those states, too.
Please visit our page regarding The Coronavirus Pandemic: Car Payments and Repossessions to learn more about the impact of the Coronavirus and stay-at-home orders on consumers’ car payments and automobile repossessions.