Are you unable to make your car payment because your budget is tight or your car lease expired while the business you leased it from was closed? The following information may be of interest to you.

If your budget is too tight to make the car payment, you can ask to have one or more payments postponed. However, the merchant is not required to agree to your request.

What should I know if I want to postpone one or more payments? i

Generally speaking, merchants are more inclined to agree to postpone one or more payments if there are no late payments at the time of the request. It is therefore recommended that you contact the merchant as soon as you anticipate any difficulties.

Cars that are leased or rented

Merchants are not required to agree to postpone payments. If they agree to do so, they may only ask that you pay the accrued interest. The contract usually provides for the interest rate that will be substituted to the legal rate of 5% per year. No other fees may be charged.

Cars that are purchased and financed through a dealership

Merchants are not required to agree to postpone payments. If they agree to do so, they can only ask that you pay the credit charges stemming from the application of the credit rate calculated in accordance with the law, which must be disclosed in the contract. No other fees may be charged.

What would happen if I simply stopped paying? i

The pages titled Difficulties Making Payment – Leased Automobile and Payment Difficulties and Financing – Purchased Automobile explain the various possible scenarios.

Furthermore, you should keep in mind that any late payments or forced repossession of the vehicle are very likely to be entered into your credit file.

What should I do if I am unable to return my vehicle to the merchant that is closed because of the pandemic? i

If the merchant cannot take the vehicle back because a government order prevents the business from being open, both parties could invoke a case of force majeure. You would then be released from the obligation of returning the leased vehicle. In addition, unless you and the lessor have entered into an agreement to extend the contract, the contract will end on the scheduled expiry date, which means that you will no longer have to make any payments and that you should immediately stop using the vehicle, or only use it to move it out of necessity.

Send a registered letter to the lessor to point out that your contract has ended, that you are prepared to return the vehicle and that you no longer authorize any payments by pre-authorized debits. If applicable, claim a reimbursement of any debit payments collected after the contract has ended. The page on pre-authorized payments explains what do to. Give the lessor a few days to take the vehicle back and indicate that you will maintain the vehicle’s registration and insurance coverage in the meantime, but that you could claim any fees stemming from this maintenance.

It might be a good idea to have the vehicle inspected so that an expert could eventually bear witness to its condition, while keeping in mind that the lessor cannot claim any excess costs for anything that constitutes normal wear.

If the deadline has passed and you still haven’t heard from the lessor, and if you are no longer in a situation in which you can keep the vehicle, notify the lessor by registered mail that you will leave the vehicle at the lessor’s place of business and that you are releasing yourself from any responsibility. Make sure you have a witness and leave the vehicle in the safest place possible.

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Last update : February 28, 2023

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The information contained on this page is presented in simple terms to make it easier to understand. It does not replace the texts of the laws and regulations.