If you’re in the market for a new car, a lease can make it easy to try something new without the commitment of a purchase. But what if a lease lasting for several years feels too long for you? You could try something called a lease takeover (also called a lease swap or a lease assumption). Here’s how to get a lease takeover and some things to consider before you do.
What Is a Lease Takeover
A lease takeover is an agreement in which you assume someone else’s lease. This is a formal transfer that requires the leasing company to approve your credit. Once you’re approved, the lease is transferred into your name, and the car is your responsibility for the remainder of the lease.
There are times, however, when the original lessee isn’t entirely removed from the lease. In those cases, they might be kept on the lease, in which case the car is still yours to use for the remainder of the lease, but the original lessee could be held responsible for payments if you default. They could also be responsible for any damage done to the car beyond the typical wear-and-tear expectations. This is a risk for the original lessee, as their credit can become damaged if you don’t meet your financial obligations on the lease.
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How to Get a Lease Takeover
There are a few different ways you can find a lease to takeover. One would be to transfer a lease from someone you know who no longer wants their leased car. But if you don’t know anyone who has a lease they want out of, there are websites you can go to for help.
Three popular lease takeover websites are Lease Quit, LeaseTrader, and SwapALease. All of these websites enable you to search for the make and model you want and to see if any are available nearby for a lease takeover. Some even let you search by the amount of time remaining on the lease or by monthly payments — useful tools if you only need a car for a short period of time or have a set budget.
These sites don’t come free, however. You can easily search on them, but most require a registration fee from those who want to contact a buyer. Lease Quit charges $19.99 per month, for example, and LeaseTrader has multiple packages ranging from $9.99 to $34.99 per month.
There are other costs that can incur with a lease takeover as well, some of which (like registration) you’d have to pay even if you bought or leased a car the more traditional way. You might also have to pay for a credit check and for transfer and transportation fees, and you’d likely have to pay for a vehicle inspection if you want one. That said, there are times when the original lessee might offer a cash incentive to help out with those fees. You can also ask them to pay the transfer fees since they’re the ones incentivized to get out of the lease.
On the plus side, you don’t have to pay a down payment like you would if you got a lease on your own through a dealer.
Things to Remember Before You Take Over a Lease
There are a few important things to consider before leasing a car, whether it’s a new lease or a lease transfer. Here are just a few to think about no matter how you enter into a lease:
- How much mileage do you typically put on a car each year? Leased cars often have mileage restrictions, and if you go over, you would be liable for fees.
- How do cars where you live typically fare due to weather, city parking, and other things that might cause damage? Beyond typical wear-and-tear, you could also be liable for fees due to any excessive damage done to your leased car.
- How much insurance can you afford? Leasing companies sometimes require higher levels of insurance than is required in your state, so it’s important to be aware of and prepared for that cost.
Besides these questions, there are specific questions to consider when you’re thinking about taking over a lease:
How much mileage does the leased car already have on it? Has it already gone over the maximum miles allowed, and if so, can you convince the seller to pay those fees in advance?
How much wear-and-tear does the car have? Is it above and beyond what the leasing company would likely accept without charging additional fees? This is where a vehicle inspection can come in handy, as not all damage is external.
Finally, the last bit of research you might want to do is to find out if your state requires you to pay sales tax on a lease and if you’d be required to pay additional fees, such as disposition fees, at the end of the lease. Once you know what you’re getting into financially beyond just the monthly payments, you can more easily decide if taking over a lease is the right choice for you.