After Repossession, Can You Keep Items Added To The Vehicle By The Customer?
Automotive Dealership Law on June 26, 2011
A buy-here-pay-here dealer called me the other day inquiring as to whether it could keep – after repossessing a vehicle – headrests containing DVD players which were installed by the customer after purchase. A review of Florida law reveals that as long as the subject security agreement (retail installment contract) specifically provides for a security interest in “accessions,” then the dealer or auto financing company has a security interest in such items. “Accession” means goods that are physically united with other goods in such a manner that the identity of the original goods is not lost. Headrests containing DVD players, for example, appear to fall squarely within this definition. Tires and wheels also appear to fall squarely within this definition. This is because these items are goods that are physically united with a motor vehicle in such a manner that the identity of the motor vehicle is not lost. In other words, these items do not change the identity of the motor vehicle. Because the dealer or auto financing company has a security interest in such items, the dealer or auto financing company may keep such items and dispose of them as required by law.
Another question which sometimes arises is what happens if these accessions/items are financed? Florida law gives those who perfect their security interest in a motor vehicle by noting their lien on the certificate of title a superior security interest over those with a security interest in an “accession.” Therefore, those who finance tires, wheels and other similar accessories should be aware of the risks they are taking by financing such goods. On the other hand, those who perfect their security interest in a motor vehicle by noting their lien on the certificate of title will likely have a superior claim to any new tires and wheels, and other similar goods, attached to the vehicle.