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Information on voluntary surrender of lease Team
UpdatedApr 2, 2024

If I have to return my vehicle lease how will that affect effect me buying a house?

If I have a low credit score and i have to return my vehicle lease because i cannot afford to keep it how will that affect my credit score? And how will it effect me buying a house?

Most lenders treat the voluntary surrender of a vehicle the same as repossession. Despite this fact, surrendering can benefit a borrower by saving him a significant amount of money in repossession costs. When a leased vehicle is voluntarily surrendered, the lender will usually sell the vehicle at auction, and then apply the money received at auction to the balance owed on your auto lease. If the lender receives less money at the auction than you still owe on the lease, the difference is called a deficiency balance. Generally speaking, you would be liable to the creditor for the deficiency balance, which means you will probably still owe money to the creditor even though you no longer have the vehicle. The creditor may be willing to negotiate a repayment plan or lump-sum settlement with you to repay the deficiency, but if you fail to make arrangements with the creditor, the creditor could sue you to obtain a judgment against you, which could result in wage garnishment, a lien on your property, and/or bank levies, depending on the laws in your state.

Because deficiency balances on automobile leases can cause a significant financial hardship, you should work diligently to prevent the vehicle from being repossessed, if at all possible. First, you should contact the creditor to discuss options to bring the lease current, such as deferral of the missed payments. If the lender will not work with you in bringing the lease current, you should look into borrowing the money needed to pay the deficiency. If you cannot borrow the money to repay your missed payments, or if you cannot afford to continue making your regular monthly payments, you may have no choice but to surrender the vehicle or let it be repossessed, in which case you should contact an attorney to discuss the laws in your state regarding the collection of deficiency balances, and what options are available to you to resolve the debt. For example, many consumers whose vehicles are repossessed find that filing bankruptcy can help solve their financial problems; I encourage you to visit the Bankruptcy Information page to learn more about bankruptcy and the options available to you. In addition, a debt resolution program, such as debt settlement, may be able to help you negotiate a settlement with you creditor. To learn more about bankruptcy alternatives, I invite you to visit the Debt Help page.

A voluntary surrender of your vehicle will likely appear on your credit report as a repossession, or possibly as a voluntary repossession, meaning that the surrender will likely have a strong negative mark on your credit profile. If you simply cannot afford the vehicle, you may have no choice but to surrender the vehicle and worry about the credit impact later. If you do nothing, the vehicle will be repossessed anyway, which will also damage your credit and could cost you several thousand dollars in additional repossession fees.

Like any negative mark on your credit profile, surrendering your vehicle could cause you problems if you are attempting to purchase a home. With the tightening of underwriting standards following the recent implosion of the sub-prime mortgage market, aspiring homeowners with credit problems are finding it increasingly difficult to obtain the financing they need to buy a home. If your credit is otherwise solid, the voluntary surrender of your vehicle may not prevent you from obtaining a mortgage, but it will likely make the process much more difficult. Again, if you cannot afford the lease payments, you likely have no choice but to surrender the vehicle, but you should know that it could cause you problems in your search for a home. However, you should also keep in mind that a voluntary surrender or repossession only stays on your credit report for seven years, so this lease should not permanently damage your credit rating. In addition, as time passes, the negative impact of the surrender on your credit score should diminish, so even if you cannot qualify for a mortgage now, you may be able to in a few years if you work hard to keep your other credit accounts in good standing. If you would like to learn more about credit, credit reports, and credit scoring, I encourage you to visit the Credit Information page.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.



Debt statistics

Debt is used to buy a home, pay for bills, buy a car, or pay for a college education. According to the NY Federal Reserve total household debt as of Q4 2023 was $17.503 trillion. Auto loan debt was $1.607 trillion and credit card was $1.129 trillion.

A significant percentage of people in the US are struggling with monthly payments and about 26% of households in the United States have debt in collections. According to data gathered by from a sample of credit reports, the median debt in collections is $1,739. Credit card debt is prevalent and 3% have delinquent or derogatory card debt. The median debt in collections is $422.

The amount of debt and debt in collections vary by state. For example, in Iowa, 20% have any kind of debt in collections and the median debt in collections is $1500. Medical debt is common and 9% have that in collections. The median medical debt in collections is $526.

While many households can comfortably pay off their debt, it is clear that many people are struggling with debt. Make sure that you analyze your situation and find the best debt payoff solutions to match your situation.



LLance, Jul, 2020

I am needing to surrender my car due to the pandemic. I owe 7,500 left on the lease. I was wondering is there anyway to get that written off to where I don’t owe anything? I have a 2019 Kia Forte 15,000 miles on it. I understand I would have to pay a deficiency balance, would like to avoid that at all cost but if I only owe 7,500 left how would my car not be sold for more than that?

DDaniel Cohen, Jul, 2020

Lance, you are conflating the rules for a car loan and the terms of the lease. The company that leased you the car will enforce the terms of the contract which contains language about the penalties and fees if you don't pay as agreed. They were going to get the car back from you at the end of the lease. A person who makes all of his or her car payments would own the car.

Pull out your lease agreement and look for "In case of Default" or something that fits your circumstances. It should make clear what consequences you can expect.

GGabriel, Jun, 2020

I am looking into surrendering my lease, I lost my job in the pandemic and I am not able to afford the lease anymore, I have a credit score of 802, how bad would the voluntary surrender affect my credit, specially if I might need to get another car in the near future, a year or so?

DDaniel Cohen, Jun, 2020


When it comes to impact on credit scores from one event, the answer depends on what else is on the credit report. A general rule is that the higher the score, the bigger the impact of a serious derogatory item. In part, it depends on how the lessor handles the account and whether it is sent to collections. I would guess you would see a drop of 60 to 100 points.

In addition to your credit score, your credit history is affected. That means if you have a score that bounces back into the excellent rating in 6-12 months, the event is assessed by creditors. If you default on a car lease, it makes sense that if you apply for another car lease your prior default would be a problem.

The best course of action is to avoid the repo, if possible. Search for someone who can take over your payments and benefits from not needing to pay a lump sum up front. That person would need to pass the lender's credit standards. If you decide it is crucial to you to avoid the hit to your credit, you may even want to subsidize the taking over of your lease, if that kind of sweetened offer is needed to sway someone. Of course, you don't want to give them more than is necessary, but offering the person considering it a $25 per month subsidy could be meaningful.

CChristine, Jan, 2020

I cosigned a lease for my grandson. He has now moved taking the car with him. I do not want to be responsible for the car or lease. How do I get out of it. I do not know where he lives

DDaniel Cohen, Jan, 2020

Christine, there is no way to achieve your goal. You were asked to co-sign to protect the financing company's interests, to ensure they get paid. They are not going to remove you from the agreement. You are financially responsible if payments are not made and your credit will take a hit if payments are late. To protect your credit make sure that you are aware of whether payments are being made or not by contacting the lessor.

CConnie Wilson, Jan, 2020

I recently leased a vehicle and needed a co-signer. I just found out my job (care giver,paid cash) may be ending sooner than I expected. I need to surrender my vehicle. Will the co signer need to be involved? Im trying to avoid that.

DDaniel Cohen, Jan, 2020

Connie, the lessor required a co-signer to protect its interests in case you are unable to fulfil the terms of the lease. The co-signer will most definitely be involved. He or she will be responsible to make the payments; take hit on his or her credit report, if any payments are missed; and on the hook for any part of the debt that is not paid off.