Step 1. Pay off the arrears to “reinstate” the agreement
If your property is repossessed by a secured creditor, you have the right to reinstate the security agreement by paying off what you owe—as long as the property is “consumer goods”. See above under “If the creditor has ‘security’” for details.
To reinstate the agreement, you must pay off the arrears on the debt (payments that were due but have not yet been paid), together with the expenses of repossessing the property.
If you do this, the creditor must return the repossessed property. You’d then go back to making payments under your agreement as if the default hadn’t occurred.
Step 2. Negotiate with the creditor
For any type of repossession, you can try negotiating with the creditor. Explain your financial situation. If you’re having trouble making debt payments, propose a new repayment plan. A creditor may agree to:
- charge you a lower interest rate
- extend the time you have to repay
- reduce the amount of your payments
See our guidance on negotiating payment terms.
If you have multiple creditors, see our guidance on options for getting out of debt. Debt consolidation can be a good choice if you are having trouble with multiple payments. A consumer proposal might be appropriate if you have excessive debt but want to avoid bankruptcy.
Step 3. Claim an exemption for personal property
Under the law in BC, when a creditor seeks to repossess your property under a court order, you can protect certain personal items. See above under “Understand your legal rights” for details.
You must claim any exemption within two days of the property being seized. The law doesn’t set out a specific procedure to claim the exemption. A good approach is to start by making a list of the property you want to exempt.
File a copy of the list with the court registry where the court order was issued. Personally deliver a copy to the court bailiff.
Step 4. Start a legal action
If you think your property was wrongfully taken, you can start a legal action to have it returned. See “Understand your legal rights”, above.
If your claim is for less than $35,000, you can sue in Small Claims Court. It’s faster and less complicated than suing in the British Columbia Supreme Court.
If your claim is for less than $5,000, it will be heard by the Civil Resolution Tribunal. This is an online tribunal that encourages a collaborative approach to resolving disputes.
A lawyer can explain your options and help you decide on the best course of action. If you don’t have a lawyer, there are options for free or low-cost legal help.