How To Lease a Car Short-Term
Car dealers don’t normally offer short-term leases on new cars. Nor do they lease used cars. They only offer new-car leases that typically start at 24 months. Leases for 36 and 39 months are the most common.
If a shorter term, say a 1 year lease, is required, there’s another way to do it. We’ll tell you how and where.
Why a Short Term Lease?
There are many reasons someone might want a vehicle for a relatively short period of time — 3 months, 6 months, or a year. A temporary job assignment. School. Temporary financial situation. Special family needs. Military deployment. Want to “test-drive” a particular make/model for a while. Don’t have cash for down payment and dealer fees.
So What’s the Answer?
In many cases a long-term rental from a car rental company may be the answer. Rent terms can range from one day to several months, although longer rentals can be very expensive. For the best rates for a long-term rental, rent from smaller local car rental companies, not large national companies such as Hertz or Alamo.
As a rule of thumb, if your needs are for about six months or less, renting may be the best solution. However, for six months to 24 months, or more, you may be better to consider a short-term lease in the form of a lease assumption.
Many short term car lease assumptions are being offered at bargain prices, with no down payment — many with cash back incentives – if you know where to look.
How Does it Work?
All short term car leases are lease “assumptions” or “transfers” or “takeovers.” That is, one party arranges to take over a lease from another party who wants out of their existing lease. The new lessee takes over the car and assumes the monthly payments for the remaining months of the original lease.
Remaining time on the leases can be as little as 3-6 months, as high as 39 months.
Short-term lease takeovers are a great way to get a low monthly payments, with no down payment or up-front dealer fees. In many cases, desperate “sellers” are offering cash incentives to make the deals more attractive. It is one of the best ways to get into a relatively late model car, still under warranty, at the lowest possible cost.
The process of lease assumption is one that involves the “seller’s” lease company making the necessary paperwork and contract changes to switch the lease over. It’s usually fast and costs about $100, depending on the lease company.
At the end of a short term lease, the new “buyer” is responsible for returning the vehicle to the lease company, or optionally purchasing the vehicle. If the vehicle is returned, the new lessee can be charged for excessive damages or mileage just as the original lessee would have if they had kept their vehicle.
How to Find Short Term Leases
Although you can sometimes find lease “sellers” in newspaper classifieds or “auto trader” magazines, this is not the best way. If you happen to find a lease in this way, remember it’s not legal and proper until the selling party’s lease company approves and changes the contract. You can’t simply take over lease payments from someone without changing the contract with the lease finance company.
The better way is to visit the web site of one of a handful of companies on the Internet, such as Swapalease.com who specialize in matching up lease sellers with willing buyers. They list and display vehicles for which lease transfers are being offered. In many cases these can be very good deals, especially when the original lease deal was good to begin with. Sellers frequently offer cash payments to interested buyers. This is a great way to get into an almost-new car for very little money.
To transfer a lease, some lease companies charge a relatively small application and/or transfer fee. It’s easy and inexpensive. Most will also check your credit score, which you should already know. If you don’t know your most recent score, you should. Get your Experian Credit Report FREE at freecreditreport.com.
Also read our article, Terminate a Lease, if you are interested in getting the “seller” viewpoint on this topic.
If You Can’t Find a Short-Term Lease Assumption
Lease assumptions can often be hard to find, especially if you’re looking for a specific make/model car. So what to do?
One solution might be to simply buy a good used car — one that is known to hold its resale value well — and resell it when you no longer need it for very little loss of money. Cars that are popular and have a history of great reliability make the best choices. Examples of such cars are: Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Honda CRV, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Camry, and Toyota RAV4.
If you need an auto loan for your purchase, even if you have bad credit, there are online services, such as InstantCarLoan.com that specialize in providing simple online application and fast approvals. Even if you’ve bee approved by a dealer or bank, you should check online services as well.