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Escaping a Car Lease

Q. How can I get out of my car lease without paying thousands in penalties?

A. Check out lease-transferring services such as LeaseTrader or swapalease, which connect drivers who want to end their car leases early with those willing to take over the monthly payments.

It’s a move that can save both parties thousands of dollars. Sellers can end their leases without paying off the balance or paying penalties for early termination, while buyers avoid paying the lease’s down payment or dealership fees.

For a fee ranging from $100 to $250, the services post photos of the car and details of the lease and help with the transfer paperwork once an agreement is reached.

Before you try to escape from your lease, check your original agreement. Some contracts prohibit such transfers, require their own transfer fees, or hold you responsible if the new buyer stops paying.

Since the economy went south, there has been an 18 percent increase in this “secondary lease” market among drivers 55 and older—with three times as many people looking to assume car leases as those giving them up, according to LeaseTrader spokesman Evan Sneider.

Sid Kirchheimer writes about health and consumer issues.


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