How to Take over a Lease
If you're looking for a short-term rental or a change of scenery, taking over a lease may be a good option for you. When you take over a lease, you assume the same responsibilities the original renter had for the property. You benefit by not having to pay as much in deposits and fees from the outset. The original renter benefits because they can get out of a lease more easily, typically with less expense than if they broke the lease. You can take over a lease for a car, or for real property such as an apartment or a store front. Some lease contracts may strictly prohibit subleasing, so be sure to read it before proceeding.
Assuming a Car Lease
Check your credit.When you take over a car lease, the car company will check your credit. You typically need to have a pretty good credit score to qualify for a lease. Car companies usually have the same qualification requirements for lease takeovers as they do for new leases.
- In the United States, go to to get the free credit report you are entitled to by law.
- You can also use online services, such as Credit Karma, to check your credit score. Many credit card companies also have credit checking and monitoring services you can use for free if you are a cardholder.
Search lease transfer companies online.There are a number of lease transfer companies online that make it easier to find and take over a lease. Swapalease.com and LeaseTrader.com are two of the largest.
- Lease transfer sites allow people who want to get out of their lease to place a listing with their car, their location, and the terms of their lease. You can search these listings to find the car and lease options that are right for you.
- Research the lease transfer company carefully before you use it to make sure it's legit. Look for reviews from others who've successfully transferred leases using the site.
Negotiate with the original lessee.You may not have to pay as much to assume an existing car lease as you would if you started a new lease on your own. However, most car companies have transfer and application fees. Negotiate to determine whether you or the original lessee will pay these fees.
- Any agreement should be put in writing. For example, if there is an application fee, the car company typically would look to you to pay that. If you and the original lessee have agreed that you would each pay half, the car company isn't going to enforce that agreement for you.
Complete an application with the car company.The car company will have an application for you to take over the lease, which will probably look similar to the application you would complete to start a new lease.
- You may be able to complete this application online. You also may need to fill out a paper application and mail it in, or visit a local dealership to complete the application process.
- The car company will check your credit and make sure you qualify to take over the lease.
Have the car inspected.The car company is not responsible for the condition of the car. Some lessees may be wanting to get out of their car lease because there is damage to the car that they don't want to pay for when they turn the car back in. The only way to know for sure is to get the car inspected.
- If you're completing the lease transfer process at a dealership, they may offer to do an inspection for you.
- Make note of any damages or repairs that need to be made. If these are significant, you may want to negotiate with the original lessee to take care of those repairs before the lease is transferred into your name.
Sign a lease transfer agreement.If the car company approves the lease transfer and everything is in order, they'll have an agreement that transfers the lease from the original lessee over to you.
- Depending on your income and the results of your credit check, your lease terms may differ from those of the original lessee. Read the transfer agreement carefully and make sure you know what your payments will be, and what your responsibilities are at the end of the lease term.
Take possession of the car.When the transfer is complete, the car is yours. You will have to take care of getting new tags and paying taxes and registration fees for the car. The lease transfer process can be complicated, and typically takes 2 or 3 months to get to this point.
- Contact your insurance company to get sufficient insurance for the car. The minimum insurance requirements will be listed in the transfer agreement.
Taking Over a Real Property Lease
Choose between a sublease or assignment.If you sublease a home from someone else, you are technically renting from them and they remain responsible to the landlord. If they assign their lease to you, on the other hand, you take over the remainder of their lease term on the same conditions and rent directly from the landlord.
- In either a sublease or assignment both the original tenant and the sublessee or assignee will still be responsible for the obligations contained in the lease unless the landlord clearly releases the original tenant from them.
Read the original lease carefully.Since many lease agreements strictly prohibit subleasing you need to make certain the lease allows for it or the entire subleasing contract will be void. Pay close attention when responding to ads on sites like Craigslist, since people posting the ads may may not have read their lease.
- Laws in some areas may also restrict assignments or subleasing. This is more common with residential leases, which tend to be for shorter terms than commercial leases.
- If the original lease does not mention assignment or subleasing at all, this still doesn't necessarily mean that you can take over the lease without permission from the landlord.
Get consent from the landlord.Even if assignment or subleasing is specifically covered in the original lease, you still need the landlord's permission to take over the lease for the other person. If you don't have the landlord's permission and they find out, they could have you removed from the property immediately.
- While you may want to meet with the landlord in person, get any agreement in writing. The landlord may later change their mind, or forget that they agreed to let you take over the lease.
- The landlord may want to run a credit or background check on you before they consent. Typically landlords will want you to meet the same requirements as any other new tenant.
Consult an attorney with experience in landlord-tenant law.Particularly for commercial leases, it's a good idea to talk to a landlord-tenant attorney who has experience with assignments of leases or subleasing. They can review the original lease and make suggestions on issues you may not have considered.
- Many landlord-tenant attorneys will provide a free initial consultation. Use this to your advantage to get some advice on the situation, even if you ultimately don't end up hiring them.
Negotiate with the original renter.There may be deposits or transfer fees that are required when you take over someone else's lease. You also need to figure out how you're going to deal with utilities and other services, such as cable or internet.
- For example, if the original renter is assigning their lease to you, they may have already paid a security deposit. The landlord may want an additional deposit from you, or the original renter may want you to pay them a portion of the deposit since they won't be living there anymore.
- Another issue is lease renewal. Landlords typically offer better rental rates for tenants who renew their leases. If you plan on staying longer, or if the original renter plans on returning, you need to find out how lease renewal will work.
Draft a written agreement.Your assignment or sublease should be in writing and address all the issues you discussed in negotiations. You can find forms online for free that you can use as models to draft your agreement.
- Get several forms, and make sure they're legally valid in the place where the property is located.
- Tailor the language in the forms to your unique situation. Don't copy something verbatim from a form if you don't understand what it means. Contact an attorney to find out what language would work best for you.
Sign the finalized agreement.Provide your draft to the landlord and the original renter. They may have comments or suggestions to amend the draft. Once everyone is satisfied with the agreement, print it out for everyone to sign.
- You, the original renter, and the landlord should all sign the sublease or assignment agreement.
- After the agreement is signed, make sure everyone has a copy.
Video: Watch this before dealing with a Lease assumption or trade
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