Leasing for both fleet and private vehicles is becoming more and more popular, as it offers both companies and drivers a number of benefits. But like with any rental or lease agreement at the end of the contract you’ll need to decide what to do next.
We’ve put together the below guide to explore all the options that are available at the end of a business lease and to explain the returns process.
This guide is designed for businesses who lease their vehicles through Wessex Fleet, however there is general advice that is applicable for any fleet lease agreement.
If you lease vehicles for your fleet through Wessex Fleet then we will be with you every step of the way and be able to help you with any of the options explored below.
There may be some occasions where the funder will require you to contact them directly, but we would still be your first port of call and can give you the best contact details for the specific department you need to talk to at the funder.
There are four main options you’ll have depending on the type of agreement you have opted for and any restrictions that the lease finance company have on these. The four options are:
- Extending your current agreement
- Purchasing the vehicle
- Taking out a new lease or getting a replacement vehicle via other funding methods
- Returning the vehicle without taking a replacement lease
Whether you are replacing the vehicle or not at the end of the contract you will need to arrange for the lease vehicle to be collected.
We will usually get in touch with your fleet manager when a vehicle reaches the last six months of its lease to discuss what you want to do with the vehicle and arrange a replacement lease if needed. You can reach our Customer Services Team on 01722 322 888 or email@example.com at any time though to discuss your options.
Some funders will allow you to formally extend your lease agreement, provided you get in touch with them in plenty of time.
Formal extensions will usually be for six or 12 months, but you should be aware that the rental rate is not guaranteed to be the same as the previous contracted rentals.
An extension will not take into account the amount you pay for the initial rental, and so the amount may increase if you paid a larger upfront amount.
Some funders will also allow you to go into an informal extension, where there is no agreed upon terms, but you are able to keep the vehicle for a few weeks to keep your driver mobile if the replacement car is due slightly after the end of the lease date. Again, the rental rate may increase from your usual contractual amount as it does not take into account the initial rental. With an informal extension the payment date is likely to change as well. This is because during the contract you will usually pay for the upcoming month, whereas with an informal extension you will be paying for a month in arrears.
If you do enter into an informal extension then the lease company can ask for the vehicle to be returned to them at any time.
If you would like to discuss extending your lease then our Customer Services Team are able to advise you on 01722 322 888.
Another option that some funders allow is for the vehicle to be purchased.
This is not always an option and there can be rules around who can actually purchase the vehicle. Some funders will not allow the business to purchase the vehicle but will allow an employee, whilst others will not allow anyone connected with the company to purchase it but will sell it to a third party.
As we use a number of funders and each is a little different in what they allow we recommend giving our Customer Services Team a call on 01722 322 888 or emailing them on firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be able to look into the options available for you.
Unless you are extending the lease or purchasing the vehicle then you will need to return it before the end of the contract.
As mentioned above we get in touch with your fleet manager about six months before the end of the lease to discuss replacement vehicles or alternative options. However, if you decide that you need to return the vehicle without a replacement then we may ask you to contact us closer to the end of contract date to arrange collection.
Please note that most funders usually require around a week’s notice in order to arrange collection but depending on demand at the time they may be able to arrange collection for sooner or need to assign you the next available collection after the requested date.
In order for us to arrange collection for you at a convenient date and location we will need the below information:
- The vehicle’s registration
- The current mileage
- Your preferred collection date
- The collection addresses
- The collection contact’s name and contact number
- An email address to send confirmation to
Again, it will be our Customer Services Team who you need to get in touch with in order to arrange collection using the same details we’ve provided above.
If your lease is funded by a manufacturer finance, for example Audi Finance, then they may ask for you to contact them directly but we will advise you of this should the need arise.
What Happens at the End of a Business Car Lease?
Along with collection the funder will also arrange for the vehicle to be inspected. This can sometimes be done by a separate agent a few hours before collection or by the collection agent themselves.
Once the inspection has been carried out the driver, or the collection contact if they are not available, will be asked to read through the report, making any additional comments they have and then sign to confirm the inspection has been carried out.
After the vehicle has been collected the inspection report is sent onto the lease funder and anything noted on the report will be compared to their fair wear and tear guidelines.
As part of the lease contract that is signed your business agrees to return the vehicle in a condition in line with the BVRLA’s fair wear and tear guidelines. Fair wear and tear refers to any acceptable deterioration of the vehicle due to normal usage and takes into account the vehicle’s age, mileage and whether it’s been suitably cared for during the lease. It does not cover any damage as a result of a specific event or series of event, harsh treatment, negligent acts or omissions.
Each funder has their own returns guidelines that are based on and comply with these, but there may be slight differences between funders.
If you have multiple leases with multiple funders then it may be worth checking the specific guidelines for the individual vehicle prior to collection. Most of our funders will provide a link to their guidelines with confirmation of collection but we can request these for you if you would like to review them prior to arranging collection.
Upon collection the vehicle mileage will also be noted before the driver sets off. This will also be sent onto your funder for them to review. If the mileage on the clock is over the contractual amount you will then be charged for any excess miles.
Please note that if you have a maintenance package on the lease agreement then there will usually be two excess mileage charges, one for the financial agreement and one for the maintenance agreement.
Private Number Plates and Collection
Some drivers like to put a private registration number onto their vehicles. This is fine to do on a lease vehicle and we’ve put together another guide to fully explain the process of getting the number plate added.
However, unless you no longer want to keep the number plate you will need to arrange for it to be removed prior to collection and the registration to be put on retention for you.
Funders cannot collect the vehicle if the retention process is not complete.
We can help you with arranging the retention and replacement plates for the vehicle but you may also need to speak to the funder directly in some cases.
As leasing is only for a few years when you reach the end of any particular agreement you might decide that you still require a vehicle for that particular driver or role.
There are a number of ways in which we can help you source a new vehicle, and you can view all the different funding methods here. Many businesses decide that unless they are changing the direction of their fleet that replacing a lease vehicle for another lease is the best option for them.
We mentioned above that we will usually be in touch with you around six months before the end of any lease you have sourced through Wessex Fleet and this is so that we have time to source a replacement vehicle, even if it is a factory order, for it to be delivered at the same time that your current vehicle is due to be collected.
If you have any questions about the leasing process or returning a lease vehicle then please get in touch with us on 01722 322 888 or take a look at our driver end of lease guide.