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News Automakers Must Take Back Returned Lease Vehicles, State AGs Say

19:53  21 may  2020
19:53  21 may  2020 Source:   caranddriver.com

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a car parked on the side of a building: The Attorney Generals signed the letter telling automakers that consumers must be able to return vehicles at the end of the lease term. © MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images The Attorney Generals signed the letter telling automakers that consumers must be able to return vehicles at the end of the lease term.
  • Attorneys General from 11 states plus Puerto Rico have signed a letter telling automakers they must take back vehicles at the end of a lease term.
  • The letter cites media reports that customers were having difficulty in returning their leased vehicles.
  • The AGs advise that dealers who won't take leased vehicles back are "violating contractual lease obligations and a number of state and federal laws."

A letter written by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, signed by 11 other Attorneys General, has reminded automakers of their legal obligation to take back leased vehicles returned at the end of their lease term. The AGs asked the automakers' affiliated dealers and lending arms to have systems in place through the duration of the pandemic to take back leased vehicles when customers return them. The letter is in response to reports that people were not being allowed to give back vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Automakers have been granting customers lease extensions so that they wouldn’t have to bring their leased vehicles back to the dealership while the pandemic was ongoing. Nonetheless, as Becerra notes in the letter, several media reports found that some lease holders who wanted to return their vehicles weren’t able to; either the dealers wouldn't accept them, or they would pressure leaseholders to extend the lease when they didn't want to do so.

This, in turn, led to customers holding onto leases for longer than they had anticipated and being forced to continue paying for a lease they should no longer possess. The first to report on the issue was USA Today in mid-April, in a story in which 10 lease holders either couldn't or had difficulty returning their leased vehicles.

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The other attorneys general signing on to the letter include Connecticut, Iowa, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Virginia. Puerto Rico also signed the letter. Individual letters were submitted to Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai, Mazda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

"Families are facing a once-in-a-generation economic crisis as a result of the coronavirus pandemic," Attorney General Becerra said in a statement. "There is no reason for automakers or their dealers to push individuals further into financial despair through unlawful and predatory leasing practices. Consumers must be able to return their leased vehicles."

The letter specifically called for dealerships to take several steps, including: Examining lease-end procedures to ensure they comply with the lease agreement and the law; provide customers with lease pickups or other safe alternatives at the end of the lease term; provide a clear point of contact for the customers at the end of a lease; and help and refund those who have been hurt by dealers not accepting leases.

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This is interesting!