How to Take Over (or Get Out Of) A Vehicle Lease

There are ways to get out of your current vehicle lease, legally and safely, and there are ways to take over someone else’s lease if you are so inclined.

Sometimes commitment is hard. Sometimes a few years into something you decide that you may have made a mistake. Maybe it’s the shiny new model down the street. Maybe your first love just didn’t age well and needs a whole lot of work. Maybe you are looking lustfully at the neighbor’s automobile wondering what it might take to simply take over their lease. Whatever the reason, you don’t have to be married to your car lease any longer. There are ways to get out of it, legally and safely, and there are ways to take over someone else’s lease if you are so inclined.

How to Get Out of Your Unwanted Car Lease

So, let’s assume you have been itching to get out of your current automotive, uh, situation. The ugly want-demon rears its head every time the car of your proverbial dreams rolls by. There’s a way to nip it in the bud but it takes a little work.

Find Out How Much Your Car Is Worth

First, you need to find out how much your car is worth. Check out or Kelley Blue Book to determine just how much your car could fetch in its current state. Look it up by year, make and model and be honest about the condition of your car—it doesn’t pay to delude yourself about the state of your affairs. Also—it’s a good idea to consider the lower number as the realistic value of your used but unwanted leased car. It will help save you from any unexpected disappointment and leave you pleasantly surprised if you get more.

Determine How Much You Owe

Next, pick up the phone. Call your lender or bank and find out how much you have remaining on your docket. Don’t be surprised or worried if the payment they quote you is different from what your last balance statement says. That’s perfectly normal as interest accrues over a set period of time (usually daily).

Figure Out If Your Lease Is Transferrable

Ask about the process for transferring a lease. Some banks don’t allow it at all and you’ll be stuck in your current situation for the duration of the contract. Also know that there are some risks to transferring your lease to someone else. In some cases you will continue to be held responsible for any kind of mileage overages or unpaid balances. It makes sense to speak to the bank that holds your lease to find out what the particulars of your situation may be. There’s also a risk that if the person assuming the lease defaults on that loan, the bank may come after the original lease holder—you—for the money. Just check with your bank to see what potential pitfalls there may be in your situation. You’ll need to be comfortable with potentially retaining some of the responsibility for your unwanted car well after you’ve passed it along to someone else.

While you are on the phone get all the information you might need including what kind of paperwork they need to ensure that the lease transfer goes smoothly. If your loan is held by a local bank or a credit union in your town it’s best to try and hold the sale at the bank or the dealership so that when the transaction goes down you can easily transfer the lease to the new owner. It will also give a formality to the sale, and the bank or dealership will have all the documents you need and a notary there to formalize it all.

Find A Potential Buyer

Now comes the tricky part—finding a willing buyer. Lease swaps are becoming more and more common nowadays so it’s not that difficult to do. Your best bet is to list your unwanted vehicle on Instamotor and have the buyer come to you. There are other sites out there as well (Swapalease, LeaseTrader, LeaseCompare, etc.), too. You can also let your dealership know that you are looking to get out of your lease and they can be on the lookout for potential buyers as well. Be sure to research each platform’s requirement for selling your car whether you are going with a brick and mortar or an online retailer. When you list your vehicle, be sure to disclose the fact that you still have remaining lease payments on the car so that your potential buyers know what they are in for.

Once you’ve found a buyer and put all the paperwork in order, you’ll need to get your buyer a temporary operating permit from your local DMV which will allow them to take possession of and legally drive your car. The person assuming your lease will assume a brunt of the fees that go along with transferring a lease so plan for that as well. Keep all relevant paperwork and be sure to follow up with the buyer to ensure that they have done all the relevant pieces of the work as well. Finally be sure to take your car off your insurance once the deal is done.

Buying Tips

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When is the Best Time to Sell Your Used Car?
What is a 0% Car Loan?
2017 Car Shopping Trend Report: How Prepared Are Consumers?
What are Dealer Fees & Which Ones are Negotiable?


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The Instamotor Team

Not your typical used car salesman. Our team is here to provide honest and transparent advice about car buying and selling.