Having a vehicle impounded is a stressful experience, and when the vehicle in question is a leased car, the situation can become even more complex. Not only must you contend with the impoundment process itself, but you also have to consider the obligations towards your leasing company. Here are steps you could take if your leased car is impounded.
Understanding the Lease Agreement
The first thing to understand is that when you lease a car, you're essentially renting it over a long-term period. The car is not owned by you, but by the leasing company, and you have a contractual agreement to maintain the car's condition and comply with various terms and conditions.
In most lease agreements, there are clauses related to situations where the car might be impounded. It is essential to be familiar with these, as violating the terms could lead to penalties or even early termination of the lease agreement.
What to Do if Your Leased Car is Impounded
If your leased car has been impounded, here are the steps you should follow:
- Notify the Leasing Company. This should be your first step. Most lease agreements require you to inform the leasing company immediately in the event of impoundment anf failure to do so may violate the terms of your lease.
- Find Out Why the Car Was Impounded. The reason for the impoundment will affect how you proceed. Common reasons include parking violations, driving without a valid licence or insurance, or suspicion of the car being involved in a crime.
- Understand the Release Process. You'll need to find out where the car is being held and the process to have it released. Typically, this will involve providing proof of your identity, proof of insurance, and payment of any fees.
- Arrange for Payment of Fees. Impounded vehicles incur daily storage fees, along with potential towing and administrative fees. You'll need to pay these to have the vehicle released. Depending on the terms of your lease, these costs may be your responsibility, or they may be covered by the leasing company (likely to be recouped from you later).
- Recover the Vehicle. Once you've satisfied the conditions for release, you can recover the vehicle. It's important to do this as quickly as possible to minimise storage fees.
- Resolve the Issue That Led to Impoundmen. If the car was impounded because of an offence like a parking violation or lack of valid insurance, you'll need to resolve this issue to avoid future impoundments.
Having a leased car impounded can have several potential consequences:
- Financial Costs. As mentioned above, you'll be responsible for impound fees, which can be substantial. You may also face additional fines or penalties related to the reason for the impoundment.
- Lease Violations. The impoundment could constitute a violation of your lease agreement, potentially leading to additional fees or even early termination of your lease.
- Increased Insurance Premiums. Depending on the reason for the impoundment, you may see an increase in your insurance premiums. Serious offences could even lead to difficulty securing car insurance in the future.
- Damage to the Vehicle. Depending on the circumstances, the vehicle may be damaged during the impoundment process, for which you might be held responsible.
Maintain Open Communication
When dealing with both the impounding authority and the leasing company, it's important to maintain open and honest communication. Keeping all involved parties informed will help ensure the situation is resolved as smoothly and quickly as possible.
Consider Legal Advice
If the situation is complex or you're unsure about your rights and responsibilities, it might be beneficial to seek legal advice. An expert in the field can help guide you through the process and make sure you're making informed decisions.
Check Your Lease Agreement
Your lease agreement might have specific clauses dealing with impoundment. Make sure you understand these fully to avoid breaching your agreement. If you're unclear about any aspect, don't hesitate to reach out to your leasing company for clarification.