How to get out of your car lease early


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One of the benefits of leasing a car is that it can be a shorter-term commitment than buying — but what if it still ends up being too long for you? You might be able to get out of your lease agreement sooner if you can find someone who wants to assume your car lease. Here’s how to get out of your car lease early.

What is a lease takeover

Car leases often last for as little as two or three years, which might not seem like a very long time. However, unexpected things can happen, and a payment that was affordable one month can suddenly be overbearing the next. In that case, or if someone simply finds they aren’t pleased with the performance of the car, a lease takeover might be a solution.

A lease takeover is pretty much what it sounds like and can also be referred to as a lease assumption or lease swap. Basically, you would transfer your lease to someone else and, if done correctly, you would no longer be responsible for the car or its payments and upkeep. It’s a great deal if you can get it, but it’s not always so simple.

How to get out of your car lease with a lease takeover

There are multiple ways to get a lease takeover, including:

  • Finding someone you know personally who wants your lease and then transferring it to them
  • Using a third-party website (such as Lease Quit, LeaseTrader, or SwapALease) to find someone who might be interested in assuming your lease
  • Contacting the car dealership you have the lease through and asking if they’re interested in an early return of the car (more likely if they offer something called a “lease pull ahead,” in which they take the car to get you into a new lease)

Below are some of the things you need to consider when evaluating all three options.

Transferring your lease

Whether you know someone personally who wants to take your lease or you find someone through a third-party website, the process can’t go through unless your financing company allows it. Unfortunately, not all do.

You can find out if yours allows lease takeovers by reading the original lease paperwork or you can call them directly to ask. Below are the various answers you can get:

  • They don’t allow lease transfers
  • They allow lease transfers if the new lessee can pass their credit check
  • They allow it if the new lessee can pass the credit check, but require you to remain on the lease (in which case you’re basically a co-signer and won’t be relieved of all financial responsibility)

Finally, it’s important to check that there’s not a timeframe requirement from your financing company or dealer. For example, some don’t allow lease transfers if there’s fewer than a certain number of months left on the lease. This is just one more caveat to check for to make sure you can actually do a lease transfer before you put any time or money into it.

Returning your car early

Your car dealership might be open to taking your car back early if they have new cars they want to get you in, or if they want to get your car back on their lot early. If that’s not the case, you may decide it is best for your situation for you to break your lease, but like with an apartment, it could mean paying the remainder of the costs due anyway, which doesn’t do you any good. At that point, you’d be paying full price for something you don’t even have anymore.

The costs and process of a lease takeover

The costs of a lease takeover depend on your specific situation. Potential fees include a fee for listing your car if you use a third-party website, inspection fees, shipping fees, and transfer fees. Just like calling your financing company or reading the paperwork you received upon your lease can help you find out if it’s possible to do a lease takeover, doing that can also help you discover any fees they might charge.

Once you know the amount of fees that will be involved for you, then the next step is to find someone who wants your lease. If they pass your financing company’s credit check, then the transfer will be completed with some paperwork, and you’ll be able to move on without your car lease.

One way you’d still be on the hook at this point is if your financing company only allows a transfer of equity and requires your name to remain on the lease. This is a risk you might want to think about carefully because it doesn’t completely get you out of the deal. If something happens before the lease is up, you might be held responsible.

What to do if you can’t get out of your lease with a lease takeover

If your financing company doesn’t allow lease takeovers, or only allows equity-only lease takeovers, you could try to refinance your lease. That would require being approved for a new loan that will pay off your current one. Refinancing can be a helpful option if your goal is to lower your monthly payments (if you get approved at a lower rate or extend the length of the loan).

Another option could be to sell the car, either to your car dealership, another dealership, or an individual person. If you sell to an individual person, you might have to buy the car first before you can sell it. And if you sell to a dealership, you’ll likely get the trade-in value of the car. That said, if you need out of the monthly payments, this option can help you do that.

As you can see, there are many options for getting out of a lease early, and a little bit of homework on the options and their fees can help you discover the best way for you to be relieved of a lease you no longer want.

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