The keys must be handed over at the time of leasing return.

Leasing return in the event of damage: tips for fleet managers

It is not unusual for damage to a leased vehicle to occur during the leasing period. It is therefore important to have the relevant damage to the vehicle repaired when returning the lease. But does damage have to be repaired before the vehicle is returned? And what condition should the vehicle ideally be in when it is returned?

The condition of the car on return of the lease

Ideally, the vehicle should be in the same condition as agreed in the leasing contract when it is returned. However, this is the exception rather than the rule, as wear and tear is usually visible, especially if the vehicle has been driven for many kilometers. If the leased vehicle has been used only minimally during the term and is in excellent condition, the vehicle is almost as good as new and usually shows hardly any visible signs of use.

It is generally advisable to inspect the leased vehicle thoroughly before returning it. In addition, a professional vehicle valuation by an independent expert can also be helpful in order to objectively determine the condition of the vehicle.

Lease return: Depreciation due to excessive wear and tear

According to Section 538 BGB (German Civil Code), you as the lessee are liable in the event of excessive wear and tear on the vehicle. It should be noted that this only includes defects in normal use of the vehicle. When assessing the condition of the leased car, the age and mileage are taken into account.

“The tenant is not responsible for changes to or deterioration of the rented property caused by use in accordance with the contract.”

Section 538 (BGB) Wear and tear of the rented property due to contractual use

It is important to emphasize that you as the lessee do not have to pay for the repair of the defects. Instead, you will only be charged the amount corresponding to the reduction in value of the vehicle due to the defects. These defects must be considered as a whole, as they cannot be assessed individually and added together.

Leasing return checklist

With the help of this checklist, you will know what to bear in mind when returning a lease.

Damage that a lessor must list as evidence

The lessor is obliged to provide evidence of damage or defects to the vehicle when the lease is returned. As the lessee, you are not obliged to immediately sign the resulting defect or return report from the lessor. It is worth checking the documents thoroughly and, if necessary, obtaining an external assessment of the situation before you sign. Ask for a copy of the signed documents at the end.

But which damages must be listed by the lessor? Below we show you some of the most common types of damage:

Scratches and dents on return

Scratches and dents can be caused by improper handling or external influences. For example, slight dents on one of the car doors are generally considered to be normal signs of use when vehicles are used.

Damage to the rims when returning the lease

Kerbs or potholes can lead to scratches, dents or cracks on the rims. However, damage to the leased vehicle can also be regarded as typical signs of use.

Damaged interior fittings

Soiled or damaged seats, carpets or dashboards can also lead to deductions on the return of the lease and be assessed as damage to the vehicle.

The lessee should ensure that the vehicle is kept clean to prevent such damage.

Technical damage

If the vehicle has technical defects that go beyond normal wear and tear, the lessor can cite this as damage. These include, for example, problems with the engine, electronics or transmission. Regular maintenance and repairs can help to prevent such defects.

Excessive wear and tear after leasing return

Excessive wear that goes beyond normal wear and tear can also be considered damage. These include, for example, heavily worn tires, frayed upholstery or scratches on sensitive surfaces.

Lease return: What the lessee must consider

When returning a leased vehicle, there are a few important aspects to consider in order to avoid unpleasant surprises.

  1. Documentation of the vehicle history: Careful documentation of the vehicle history is essential. The lessee should keep a record of all maintenance and repair work, oil changes and inspections. This not only serves as proof that the vehicle has been regularly maintained, but can also help to identify any damage that needs to be repaired before the vehicle is returned.
  2. Vehicle inspection before return: It is advisable to inspect the vehicle thoroughly before returning it. Both external and internal damage, such as scratches, dents or damage to the interior, should be checked. The lessee can also take advantage of a professional vehicle valuation to obtain an objective condition report.
  3. Lessor’s return requests: The lessor may impose specific requirements for the return of the vehicle. These can include, for example, removing company logos or advertising stickers, cleaning the vehicle or filling the tank. It is important to note these requirements and fulfill them before returning to avoid additional costs or deductions.
  4. Documentation on return: On return, the lessee should prepare detailed documentation on the condition of the vehicle. Photos or videos can be helpful here. It is advisable to check the condition of the vehicle together with a representative of the lessor and obtain confirmation of the condition. This can later serve as evidence in the event of discrepancies regarding possible damage.
When the lease is returned, the vehicle is checked for damage, for example to the tires.
Ideally, the vehicle should be inspected by an expert before returning the lease.

Leasing return: Loss of value due to accident?

In the event of an accident, the leased vehicle loses value. This has a particular impact on the resale of the vehicle at the dealer, as the dealer has to reckon with lower income. Even if the vehicle has been repaired, it remains an accident vehicle and therefore suffers a reduction in value. The financial loss is particularly noticeable for high-quality vehicles and new cars. In this context, the question arises as to whether lessees can be held liable for depreciation following an accident:

  • In the event of hull damage caused by the lessee, the lessee must generally make the compensation payment.

  • In the event of a liability claim, the vehicle insurance of the other party involved in the accident must pay compensation for the leased vehicle.

The most important facts about leasing returns in the event of damage

The lessee is liable for damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear.

An independent appraiser of a leased vehicle is helpful before it is returned in order to objectively assess the condition of the vehicle and avoid possible disputes about damage.

The documentation of the vehicle history is important in order to provide proof of the condition and maintenance of the vehicle during its lifetime.

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