How to Assume a Car Lease (And Pocket Some Cash)

Taking over a car lease can be a great way to get your next car. While there are many advantages, however, there are some things to watch for. We’ll cover how to take over a lease, some resources to help you out, and the pros and cons of taking over a car lease.

Take over a car lease

You may be weighing the pros and cons of buying or leasing a car. The good news is that you now have a new resource if you’re leaning toward leasing. Many people are actually finding their ideal vehicles by taking over someone else’s existing lease.

This option can be extremely flexible and affordable under certain circumstances. There are several new websites that make the process of taking over a lease easier than ever. We look at those sites, along with the pros and cons of assuming a lease.

How Do You Take Over a Car Lease?

The process of taking over a lease is relatively simple. About 30 percent of the new cars that you see on the road are leased. It’s not surprising that sometimes the drivers of those cars need to make lifestyle changes.

There are many people who have to give up a lease early for a variety of reasons. Some are relocating, while others can no longer afford to make payments. Some leasees just want a different type of vehicle.

Before taking over a lease, you should consider several factors:

  • The condition of the car;
  • The miles on the car compared to the miles allowed under the lease;
  • The monthly lease payments;
  • The remaining term of the lease;
  • Fees associated with turning in the car at the end of the lease;
  • Incentives offered by the current leasee

The actual process to take over a lease is straight forward. Once you’ve identified the car (more about that below), the first step is a credit check. The finance company behind the lease must approve the transfer. They will do this only if the new leasee has acceptable credit. If you don’t know your credit score, there are several ways to get it for free.

The two parties must also agree on terms. The terms may include:

  • Transfer details
  • Vehicle inspection
  • Cash incentives, if any

Fortunately, there are websites that can assist with this process.

Where to Find Leased Cars

Two websites facilitate lease swaps–LeaseCompare and SwapALease. As an example, here’s a 2014 Mercedes C250 we found on LeaseCompare:

Note that it lists the monthly payment, remaining lease term, and a $1,000 cash incentive. The listing also shows the car’s mileage and total allowed miles.

LeaseCompare shows a wealth of additional information. SwapALease offers similar details.

The Pros of Taking Over a Lease

What would make a person want to assume another person’s car lease? There are actually a variety of reasons that make this an attractive option.

First, you can get a short lease term that typically isn’t available through traditional leasing companies. A typical lease is at least two years, and a 39-month lease is common. By assuming a lease, however, you can snag a lease for a year or even less. This can work out nicely if you’re only going to be in an area temporarily. Alternatively, you may want to try out many vehicles before eventually settling on one that you want to purchase in a few years.

Second, you’re likely to get a great deal when you take over a lease. You won’t have to make a down payment. The car has also likely depreciated significantly. And the seller is often highly motivated to get out of the lease. These factors often compel a lessee to offer cash incentives. In the above example, the seller is offering a $1,000 cash incentive. Some lessees will even cover any transfer costs that are involved with the process.

Finally, taking over lease may give you a better variety of vehicles over buying used. Most used cars are several years old. They are either coming off of a longer lease or sold after three to five years of being on the road. Assuming a lease opens the door to newer cars.

The Cons of Taking Over a Lease

There are, however, a few potential downsides to taking over a lease.

First, you  will be responsible for everything the car has been through when you turn the keys back over the original leasing company. You could be on the hook for any body damage or paint damage that occurred before you got the car. You may not always be able to detect damage that has been sustained and covered up. Requesting maintenance records and paying for a vehicle history report on your own could help to detect these problems. A vehicle inspection is also critical.

Second, you need to evaluate the car’s mileage. Most leases come with mileage limitations somewhere between 12,000 miles and 15,000 miles per year. Drivers are charged about 15 cents for every mile over the limit. This fee is levied when the vehicle is returned to the leasing company.

It’s important, therefore, to evaluate the actual miles and mileage allowance. If the miles are close to the limit, the terms of the deal should reflect this. A higher cash incentive, for example, might offset the likely charge at the end of the lease. The key is to be aware of this issue and evaluate it before making a deal.

Enjoy a New Lease on the Life of Being a Lessee

Taking over someone else’s lease won’t work for every situation. However, it’s worth at least looking into the options that are available if you’ve already decided that you prefer leasing over buying. The rise in popularity of companies that assist with lease transfers means that you can have peace of mind over the fact that your transaction is being handled properly.


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