Key takeaways

  • Disability is not usually considered a reason to end a car lease early.
  • Your lessor may be willing to waive fees or negotiate the payoff amount if you explain your situation.
  • You can also break your lease — for a fee — or search for someone to take it over on your behalf.

When you are facing a short-term or long-term disability, there is no guarantee that you can break a car lease early. However, you do have options outside of giving the car back and paying steep fees.

Reviewing your contract and working with the leasing agency may help you find a good solution. And if negotiations don’t work, you may be able to have someone else take over the lease so you avoid paying for a car you no longer want or need to drive.

Can you break a car lease early because of a disability?

Unfortunately, disability or other medical issues are not immediate cause to end a car lease. To break the contract, both parties must agree to terminate the lease, or you must prove the contract allows for termination.

It can be costly to break your lease. There is typically an early termination fee, and depending on the terms of the contract, you may be required to make the remaining payments on your lease. The earlier the lease is terminated, the greater this charge could be.

How to break a car lease early

Although there is no automatic way to break a lease when you have become disabled, you can talk to your lessor and explain you’re breaking the lease for medical reasons. They may be willing to work with you to find the best solution or give you more information about early termination policies.

1. Review your contract

Your best source of information for breaking a car lease early is your contract. The lease agreement will have a clause on the early termination process and the associated fees.

Depending on the agreement and your finances, these fees may be manageable. But double-check if your contract offers options for breaking a car lease for medical reasons like disability. These could include a lease transfer, lease buyout or full termination of the contract.

You can also consider if you want to buy out the lease and try to sell your car on the secondary market instead.

2. Ask for an exception

Even if there are no exceptions stated in the contract, see if the lessor is willing to help. Ideally, you would be able to support the request with documentation, such as a medical note stating that you can no longer drive.

You may want to start with a phone call to your lessor to explain your situation. The phone number will be on the lease agreement. Follow up with an email summarizing the phone call so you have a “paper trail” of the conversation.

You may also want to connect with a lawyer to advise you, either before or after you call. They may be able to help you determine the best course of action or review your contract for ways to break your lease with minimal stress.

3. Swap your car lease

If it turns out early termination is unrealistic or too pricey, consider finding someone to take over the lease. Most lease agreements allow you to swap your lease with another person — provided the other party meets credit requirements. Different lessors have different rules for trading leases, which may include charging a fee for the transfer, so check with your lessor before you make any plans.

Online marketplaces, like SwapALease or LeaseTrader, charge a small fee to match people looking to get out of car leases with prospective lessees. These third-party companies handle the associated paperwork, so you can feel confident it’s done correctly.

While you can also try to find someone on your own, this could take a while. And you’re still responsible for making monthly lease payments until the lease is transferred.

The bottom line

Early termination of a car lease may come with fees and other costs that could add up to thousands of dollars. While you can’t automatically break a car lease due to disability, it doesn’t mean you’re stuck.

Review your lease agreement to see if there’s a clause about early termination and contact the leasing company to discuss your options. You may also be able to minimize any penalties through a lease transfer.

Ultimately, do your best to negotiate. If you are in a situation where your lease is no longer serving your needs, there are ways to break your contract.