New Law Restricts Repossession Agents

  • Doug Graham

The Minister of Justice, Hon D.A.M. Graham, said today reform of the law relating to the repossession of goods would provide consumers with greater safeguards.

The Credit (Repossession) Bill had its third reading in the House last night and will come into force on 1 July next year.

Mr Graham said under the new law, creditors or their agents would not be able to enter residential premises outside the hours of 6am to 9pm, Monday to Saturday, without consent.

'This gives debtors protection from having repossession agents turn up at times of the night when most people would not be keen to open their door to a stranger,' he said.

Persons with convictions for violence or dishonesty within the past five years, those who have been sentenced to imprisonment for 10 years or more and those who have been released from a penal institution within the preceding year are disqualified from being repossession agents.

The Bill extends the notice to be given to the debtor before seizure of goods from 10 to 15 days. After seizure, the creditor must not sell the goods for 15 days after notifying the debtor. This gives the debtor time to take action and avert the sale of goods.

Debtors now have the right to obtain a valuation before seized goods are sold. The sale must be commercially reasonable and the creditor must use all reasonable efforts to obtain the best price.

Agents exercising a right of entry of premises must produce a copy of the pre-possession notice and establish their authority to take possession of the goods.

If they enter premises to take possession of goods when the occupier is not present, he or she must leave a notice in writing in a prominent place specifying that the premises have been entered, the date of entry and an inventory of any goods taken.

They must take reasonable steps to ensure that the premises are not left obviously open.