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An alternative to buying a car is leasing one. There are two basic types of lease contracts: the Closed-end Lease (sometimes called a walk-away lease) and the less common Open-end Lease (this is where the customer leases to eventually own).

Federal Consumer Leasing Act

The Federal Consumer Leasing Act applies to any lease of consumer goods for more than four months. (It does not apply to leases of real estate, vehicles leased for business use, or total contractual obligations over $25,000.) This law requires the owner to disclose information before the customer signs the lease. The customer has the right to sue for violations. The Federal Trade Commission helps enforce the CLA, and will take action if there is evidence of a pattern of federal law violations.

Rental Period

Leases usually have a one-year minimum term; two- and three-year leases are common.

Rental Rate

Monthly payments represent an estimate of how much the car will depreciate over the lease term. When the lease expires, the customer either turns the car in, extends the lease, buys for cash, or finances the purchase.

Security Deposit

This is usually equivalent to one or two months' rental payments. This amount will be subject to deductions related to extraordinary wear and tear, damage and excess mileage. Customer will also pay a down payment, which generally represents the balance of the estimated amount of depreciation reduced by the total of the monthly rental payments (the customer should be able to eliminate this down payment with higher monthly payments and vice versa). The customer may also pay an "acquisition fee" if they ultimately choose to buy or a "disposition fee" if they return it at the end. The dealer may charge a "documentation fee" as an administrative fee for providing the lease.


Auto leases usually limit the number of miles included in the rental price. Therefore, any excess miles driven will be subject to additional fees and/or a deduction from the security deposit.

Loss & Damage
Usually the consumer is liable for damage to the vehicle, and a lease may include insurance. If not, the customer must provide his own. Damage done to the car may result in the deduction of an "appropriate" amount from your security deposit.

Risk of Operation
(If Applicable)
Owner should specifically disclaim liability for injury caused from the operation of the equipment and receive from customer express acknowledgement of his assumption of risk for such operation.

Geographic Restrictions

Removal of rented equipment to areas outside a reasonable geographic region should be strictly prohibited.


Owner should require that equipment be returned in substantially the same condition as when it was first rented. Additional charges should apply for any damage if security deposit does not cover expense of repair.

Option to Purchase

Allows customer to buy the car when lease term ends. Under such a provision, the lessor must state the purchase price or the basis for setting this price in the initial lease contract. Purchase options are common in both open-end and closed-end leases.


Default occurs when customer fails to fulfill or abide by any obligation or term of the rental agreement. Owner may terminate the agreement and require customer to pay unpaid fees and costs incurred by owner in curing the default.

Liability & Indemnity

Customer indemnifies owner against any personal injury or loss of life to any person or damage to property, which may occur.

Mediation and Arbitration

Mediation and Arbitration should always specify a location in owner's jurisdiction (preferably, in the same county where they run their business). Mediation is a non-binding way to settle the dispute quickly and amicably. If unable to settle in mediation, arbitration is first option available. Arbitration is the preferred alternative to litigation because of speed, cost, and ability to maintain low profile (no info is publicly available).

No Modification or Waiver

No modifications except those specifically agreed upon by the parties in writing. Any waiver of a term or provision will not act as a waiver of any other provision.

Entire Agreement
This agreement constitutes the entire agreement of the parties and may be modified only in a writing executed by both parties.

Notices should always list the current and best addresses where each party may contact the other for whatever reason.


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