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If your car lease is set to expire during the coronavirus pandemic, you will have options and potential roadblocks. Hal Rosner, an attorney who has testified before Congress about the car industry, offered some of the following advice:

  • If an auto dealership tries to block your attempt to return the car, summarize in a letter and/or email what has happened. Send the letter and/or email to the auto dealership and finance company stating the lease has expired and you no longer are responsible for the car. Keep a copy of the correspondence.
  • If you accept a lease extension, ask that the monthly payments be cut in half. Do not be afraid to negotiate. "Really, the consumer is holding the cards,'' Rosner said.
  • If the dealership says no one is available to conduct an inspection of the car before it is returned, take photographs and video of the interior and exterior of the car in case you're charged fees for wear and tear beyond reasonable use.
 

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If anything, you could probably threaten to start charging them for keeping the car, much as a tow company charges for storing your car on their lot. I expect the threat of a $50-100 daily fee would get their attention.
 
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