Leasing is like renting a car long-term. You don’t actually own it.
However, you can still use a car and not own it! So while you’re not the ‘registered keeper,’ you’re still responsible for driving and maintaining the vehicle until the end of the agreement. This is the major difference to consider when deciding whether to buy or lease a car.
There’s no real issue with not being the registered legal owner of the vehicle - it has almost no day-to-day implications.
We’re going to explain what all this ‘registered keeper’ and ‘legal owner’ actually mean.
Also, we will analyse the pros and cons of not being the registered keeper of a lease car.
What is the registered keeper of a car?
Regardless of whether you take out a business or personal contract hire deal, the registered keeper of the car is the name that the DVLA has for the owner of the vehicle. So any parking tickets, speeding fines all go to the registered keeper - in most cases, this is the finance company.
Happy days, right? Unfortunately not. Your finance company will either send you the fine or pay it for you and send you a bill for it (plus admin fees, of course).
The legal owner is whoever paid for the car and has proof of purchase (the logbook). This distinction is so that you could technically buy someone a car but have them as the registered keeper.
So, with leasing, you won't be the registered keeper of the car, unless you sign up for a lease purchase deal (you can read more about this if you're interested).
What are the implications of not being the legal owner?
Not being the registered owner of a car sounds intuitively like a negative thing. However, there’s actually a couple of perks to this.
Here are a few advantages you get by not being the owner of your new car:
- No road tax: Only the registered keeper has to pay road-tax. This price is usually factored into your lease amount, so you won’t have to worry about this.
- Tickets/fines: Your finance company will pay your fines for you, and if they’re nice, add it on to your monthly payments. Of course, this could end up more expensive with admin fees, but it saves you the hassle of having to process the fines yourself.
In terms of advantages, there’s not many, but there’s also not any real disadvantages! Not being the registered keeper of the car shouldn’t affect your car insurance.
Not owning the leased vehicle doesn’t really have a consequence. No one would ever know, either.
What about business leases?
A business contract hire has the same rules as a personal lease in regards to who the registered keeper is - it’s still the leasing company.
The only difference is that you might have to jump a few more hoops. For instance, if you get a parking fine, it will go to your leasing company, then possibly your employer, and finally to you.
What about parking permits?
Requesting a car permit can be a bit of a pain without being the registered keeper.
Usually, the main document you need is the vehicle logbook, which stays with the registered keeper.
You receive this and your V5 documents when you buy a car outright from a dealership.
Because of this, you need to contact your finance company to request a copy of the logbook. This takes longer than doing it instantly, and you will probably be charged (another!) admin fee for the hassle.
If you’d prefer, you could ask your finance company to send a letter to the parking company/council that explains you’re driving the lease car and they own it. This will suffice for most parking companies, but it depends.
One other area that might cause some confusion is applying private number plates to lease cars, so check out our guide on how to do that here!
Not being the registered keeper of the vehicle is part and parcel of driving a leased car.
Remember, you’re essentially only renting the car for the duration of the lease contract - you have no ownership over it.
This means that all those speeding and parking fines (you? never!) end up your finance companies letterbox. Of course, they’ll find their way to you eventually, so don’t worry about that!
The only real downside is the possible complications with getting a parking permit due to not having a logbook (it’s with the leasing company.) Still, even this issue should be solved quickly with a phone call to your leasing company.
Overall, not being the registered owner is really a non-issue, unless you feel you need to own the car for your ego - there are no real problems.
If you do want to eventually become the legal owner of the car and get your hands on those registration documents, check out lease purchase instead.