Short-Term Car Leases

A short-term car lease is not the typical leasing scenario. Most car dealers prefer to lease new cars for periods of 24 months, 36 months, or sometimes even longer. But due to a particular lifestyle, employment, or financial situation, you may find yourself better suited for a short-term lease—one that's usually set for 24 months or less.

Why Consider a Short-Term Lease?

Leasing a car is essentially renting it for a period of time. Some drivers might choose a short-term car lease because they want to drive a new car more often, or to drive a particular car for a while before buying it.

Other short-term lease considerations include:

  • Temporary relocation.
  • Military deployment.
  • Travel.
  • Temporary financial situation.
  • School.

Types of Short-Term Leases

Car dealerships don't usually sign short-term leases. Instead, a short-term car lease can be arranged one of two ways:

  • Long-term car rental (also called a mini-lease).
  • Lease assumption or lease takeover.

Long-Term Rental

Rental car agencies may offer long-term car rentals.

Like with any rental, you'll need to sign a contract that will outline restrictions on mileage limitations and usage restrictions. This type of short-term lease may include protections built in to your contract, such as roadside assistance. But just like any other type of lease, you'll need to read the fine print regarding requirements for things like:

  • Maintenance.
  • Insurance coverage.
  • Damage liability.

Lease Assumption or Takeover

With this arrangement, you will be taking over a lease from someone else. During a lease takeover, you would assume the monthly payments on the vehicle where the previous owner left off. This can be done through either:

  • A bank.
  • An individual.

The benefit of this type of arrangement is you may find lower monthly payments than a long-term rental. In addition, if the car still has low mileage, you may benefit from all the dealer warranties.

Conversely, you will also be stuck with any issues the previous owner leaves you—so if they're already over the mileage allowed on the lease, you're on the hook for any penalties.

How to Get a Short-Term Lease

If you are considering a short-term lease with a rental car company, you can apply directly on their website. They may even offer special discounts for renting for a certain number of months.

A lease takeover is a bit more complicated. This process can be done directly through a financing company, or with the aid of a company like The company that holds the lease on the car would require some paperwork to be completed for the lease to change hands, and there is typically a fee associated with this process.

When a short-term lease is over, you are now responsible for turning the car in or buying it from the dealership. For more information on how leases work, check out our Leasing 101 section.

No matter which scenario you choose, with all lease contracts it's important to read the specifics related to mileage, damage, and wear and tear. You don't want to end up paying tons of fines and fees after you've driven a car for just a few months.

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