What Happens When Breaking a Lease Contract Early
Early termination of a car lease will still leave you responsible for paying the remaining lease payments at once, whether it be 2 payments or 20, as well as termination fees. Many people assume that they can simply return the car, pay a termination fee, and that they will be Scott free. Unfortunately no, the world doesn't work that way. These acceleration clauses in the contract are definitely there in the fine print. Since vehicles depreciate most drastically in their first three to four years, lease companies have carefully closed the loopholes in their contracts specifically to prevent you from dumping a lease early on.
This means thousands of dollars that you will still owe if you choose to dump a lease too early. Of course you can always choose to ignore the charges they slap on you, but your credit score will suffer accordingly, as well as any further litigation the lease company decides to hit you with.
If you really want to break the lease contract early anyways, but don't want to fall from the graces of the credit oligarchy, your best option out would be a lease transfer. Talk to your lease company: This might not be allowed during certain periods of your contract period, and might not be allowed at all. By law, however, lease transferring requires that the lease company be aware and involved in the process.
This is still a hassle, but the upsides are no penalties, no payoffs, a transfer fee (not an upside but beats what you would've had to face), and most significantly, your credit score remains unaffected. There are plenty of buyers who are looking to lease, but don't want to go through dealers and the extra costs that they are so justly infamous for.
Online resources exist for people who wish to break lease early: Swapalease (www.swapalease.com) is an excellent resource for people who are looking to dump their lease. Lease transfer companies like Swapalease do charge a service fee, but it is much more reasonable than what you would have had to pay the lease company in the first place.