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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 118173
Experience:  Attorney experienced in commercial litigation.
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My parents who are 93 and 90 yrs old had a 24 mo auto lease

Customer Question

My parents who are 93 and 90 yrs old had a 24 mo auto lease with 4 mos remaining. They went to the toyota dealership in RI to inquire about their options at lease end. The salesman convinced them there was no need to wait till their lease ended and leased them a new vehicle with a 36 mo lease in Feb. The finance manager told them that if there were extenuating circumstances, they could turn the car back in, no problem...My father had lost his license at the age of 90 at his physician's recommendation. Two months into the new lease, my mother's license was suspended at the recommendation of her physician due to her dementia.
We contacted the finance manager and explained neither parent could no longer drive and he said we could return the car. He told me we could either buy out the lease for approximately 7500 or walk away and pay nothing. We elected to walk away. The vehicle was returned to the dealership on April 23, 2016.
The leasing company sent my parents a notice of intent to sell the vehicle, on June 9, 2016, and we thought all was done.
They got a notice dated 10/6/16 from the leasing company stating they sold the vehicle and they billed them for a deficiency of owed $7409 to the company. The date of the sale was listed as 9/8/16. . The finance manager who handled everything no longer works for the company. The new finance manager and sales manager state that they can't do anything and we should deal with the leasing company. The leasing company says they can't do anything about it. Do they have any recourse? I believe the RI statutes say that the property must be sold within 90 days of the posession of the property.
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 11 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
Legally, once they voluntarily surrendered the vehicle they would be liable for any deficiency amounts. However, this also smells of financial abuse of the elderly to lock in a 90 year old plus couple into a 24 month lease. You need to consider first informing the dealer you will be contacting the RI Department of Elderly Affairs regarding financial abuse of the elderly and also the RI Attorney General's office for them taking advantage of elderly persons.
However, under RI laws once they did sign the contract they are legally liable for the terms in that contract, including early termination fees. However, RI Gen. Law 6-51-4 states " (d) The lessor or secured party may, after gaining possession of the automobile, sell or otherwise dispose of the automobile after the twenty-day (20) redemption period provided for in subsection (c) of this section." So they do not have to sell WITHIN 90 days of the repossession, they just have to wait 20 days as the law says "MAY" sell after that time.
At this point you have to negotiate with them to resolve this issue with them, most times they will resolve it because they do not want to deal with Elderly Affairs or the Attorney General and out of good will, but they can insist the contract be enforced as written as well.
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