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Pros and cons of taking over car lease payments

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As the car market struggles to catch up with inventory issues, taking over car lease payments could be a good option to get behind the wheel. Car leases are typically for two or three years. Lessees may decide they want to end the lease early because they no longer like the car, can’t afford the payments or the car no longer suits their needs. From there, someone else — such as yourself — can connect with lessees through a third-party website. 

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Is a lease takeover a good idea?
Depending on your circumstances, taking over someone else’s car lease can be a smart move because a lease could come with lower monthly costs and expanded vehicle options compared to buying.

Advantages of a lease takeover

Assuming a car lease has clear benefits when you are looking to drive a newer model car for a short period 

Vehicle availability

With car buyers holding onto their new vehicles for an average of 6.5 years, according to the latest data from IHS Markit, and leases typically lasting two or three years, it can be challenging to find a good deal on a newer car that isn’t the current model year. But it is likely you can get a fairly new car through a lease assumption.  

Short-term lease

While the average leasing contract lasts two or three years, a lease assumption ends sooner. This shorter period allows you to test drive a vehicle without having to sign a longer-term contract. It is rare to find that timing available through traditional leasing outlets.   

Cash incentives

Many drivers are eager to get their vehicle off their hands in a lease assumption scenario. It is not uncommon for the original lessee to offer a cash bonus. They may also offer to cover any transfer fees a leasing company charges, which can save you hundreds of dollars. Negotiate with the lessee to get the best deal possible. 

Lower monthly payments

If the original lessee has excellent credit and made a large down payment, it is likely that their monthly payment is low. Since you will be taking on that monthly payment as-is, you will benefit from their terms. 

Disadvantages of a lease assumption 

Low car payments and the flexibility of a short-term car lease may be tempting, but before you assume a lease, be aware of the potential pitfalls.  

No renegotiation 

Simply put, the lease you take over is the lease you get. You will not be able to negotiate the lease and you will inherit all the terms that the original lessee agreed to. This means that if their credit score was low, you might be stuck with a higher monthly payment than you would have received getting a lease yourself. 

Limited mileage

Taking over a lease means that you will have to stick to the original mileage limits on the car lease agreement. Going over this limit could cost you; overages range from 10 to 25 cents per mile. Try and estimate how many miles you will drive before the lease expires to make sure you won’t have to pay a penalty.

Potentially high wear-and-tear costs

Just as you inherit the terms of the lease, you will possibly be taking on an unkempt vehicle. If the previous driver didn’t maintain the vehicle perfectly you will be stuck with the wear-and-tear fees. Request a vehicle history report ahead of time to remove some of the surprises.  

Additional fees 

There are three primary fees that come along with a lease takeover: lease transfer, credit application and disposition fees. According to Swapalease, you can expect these fees to cost anywhere from $395 to $895. Be sure to find out the specifics of these fees before agreeing to the lease assumption.  

How to assume a car lease 

If you’ve made the decision to assume a lease, there are a few options available for those looking to assume a car lease and for those trying to get rid of their current lease. Lessees who want to hand over their leases turn to websites such as Swapalease, LeaseTrader and QuitALease to find someone to assume that role.  

You can also reach out to the leasing company. They may be able to give recommendations or even help connect you with a potential lessee.   

Although the terms of the lease will already be determined by the original lessees’ credit history — meaning you won’t be subjected to tiered pricing — your credit history will still be considered, and you will need a good enough credit score to qualify for the lease. Be prepared to negotiate with the lessee for any potential cash bonuses and to have your credit checked. You can check your credit for free with Experian.   

The bottom line 

If you do decide to assume a lease, keep in mind that the responsibility you are taking over is greater than a typical auto lease due to the history of the original driver. You will be responsible for the rest of the payments on the car, including any damage or fees incurred by the original lessee. Shop around and compare different options before signing any agreements.  

Learn more 

Written by
Rebecca Betterton
Auto Loans Reporter
Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers in navigating the ins and outs of securely borrowing money to purchase a car.
Edited by
Auto loans editor