How do I rent, borrow or lease a car?

Do you want to lend a car to a friend, or do you need a vehicle for a weekend or longer? At first glance, a banal situation, right? But a car rental contract carries risks that can cost you a lot of money and nerves.

In today’s article, we will reveal the most common mistakes that our clients forget about when signing a contract.

Jak na pronájem, půjčku či leasing auta?
10 minutes of reading

Chapters of the article

I am renting a car to a friend

A friend or acquaintance asks you to rent a car. You don’t see a problem with this because you logically think that if he commits a traffic offence, he will be responsible for the consequences. But the reality is different. This is mainly based on the Road Traffic Act, which says that it is your duty to ensure that when using a vehicle on a road, the driver’s duties and the rules of the road are observed.

So if your friend breaks the speed limit in the village while driving your car, you will be liable for the offence and may be fined. It always depends on the specific circumstances and, of course, especially on whether your friend admits guilt. If he or she does not, you will be the only one to pay and be held liable, or you will have to prove someone else’s fault.

Anavailable attorney advises, “It’ s not for nothing that they say you don’t rent cars. If you’re looking to rip a thorn out of a friend or acquaintance’s side, consider the potential risks or avoid them with a contract. You can find countless examples of car rental contracts on the internet. However, because they are anonymous, there is no guarantee that they comply with the new Civil Code, and even if they do, it is not in their power to take your specific case into account. The contract for the use of the vehicle should therefore always be checked by a lawyer who will straighten out any legal loopholes.”

Be assured that your good deed will not be punished as it deserves

We will check the car rental contract template or we will draw up a completely new contract for you, which will contain all the important details. This is how you reduce the risk of renting a car to a minimum. We understand that these things are rushed, so you can sign within 48 hours.

Threat of non-pecuniary damage

Given the existence of compulsory liability insurance, it might seem that the operator is protected against any liability that might arise if his car causes an accident (whoever was driving it).

However, the crucial exception is non-pecuniary damage. This arises from interference with a person’s personal rights (in particular the right to human dignity, privacy and family life). This is the case of relatives of the victim of a road traffic accident who are suffering from long-term psychological problems or serious injuries that completely change their life situation. A claim may then be brought for appropriate compensation in the form of financial compensation.

You are therefore liable for non-pecuniary damage even if you do not drive the car yourself. Liability is not included in the liability of the insured under the compulsory liability insurance (unless stated in the contract), so the injured party can claim the full amount from you. This can be hundreds of thousands or even millions of crowns.

Tip: Non-pecuniary damage is not included in the insurance even if it is caused by the operator as driver.

I need a rental car for a weekend or holiday

Nowadays it is very easy to rent a car for a short period of time. Logically, renting a car carries certain risks. To be aware of these, you should be interested in how the car rental contract deals with unusual situations – most often crashes, damage or theft of the vehicle. Don’t skip the percentage of the deductible rate – most car rental companies have a 10% deductible on collision insurance. Thus, a claim of CZK 100,000 may be required despite the insurance cover of CZK 10,000.

Tip: Check your contract to see if you are covered by a deductible even if you are not at fault for the accident.

Anavailable solicitor advises,The car rental contract will usually specify who can drive the rental car. The basic price usually includes only one parent and the others are at an extra cost. Should an accident be caused by a driver not named in the contract, it is your responsibility to pay all costs.”

It is absolutely standard in a rental contract to return the car in the same condition as when you got it. So before you drive off with the car, take pictures of it from all sides and look for any damage, including interior tech.

Tip: We recommend that you also test the functionality of all lights, wipers, windscreen washers and all door and window closers.

Vrátí se vaše auto ve stejném stavu?
Vrátí se vaše auto ve stejném stavu?

If you find any defects, have them noted (by hand) on the handover report and ask the rental company to sign it. This avoids guesswork about who caused the damage.

There has been an accident with the rental car

It’s standard for car rental companies to have collision insurance, but even here you need to be careful what you sign in the rental agreement. We recommend that in the event of any accident, you call the rental company to find out what to do. They will probably ask you to call the police and hand over the report issued by them to the rental company.

If you do not do so, you risk being charged up to 100% deductible by the rental company. This is because if properly documented and reported, they cannot claim on the collision insurance.

Tip: In any case, you can only call the police if the damage exceeds CZK 100,000.

Other common situations that arise when renting a car:

  • Refueling fee – the rental contract usually states that the same tank level as when the car was rented is to be maintained when the car is returned. Check this and don’t pay unnecessarily for inconsistency.
  • Traffic violations – The Constitutional Court has ruled that the operator is responsible for the vehicle, even if anyone is driving it. The decision was also reportedly made to remedy a situation where, for example, radar cameras picked up offences but the documentation was not perfect enough to prove who was behind the wheel at the time. Therefore, some car rental companies are taking the measure of adding an increase in the daily rate to the motor vehicle rental contract in the event of repeated traffic violations.
  • High fines for smoking in the car – pay attention to all contractual arrangements and go through the penalties in detail. For example, car rental contracts tend to have high penalties for smoking and the real cost to the rental company of cleaning the car is not a factor.

Car rental contract abroad

The terms and conditions do not differ much from a domestic rental. Don’t sign a contract in a foreign language in a hurry just because you’ve seen the seaside, and make sure you understand all the terms and conditions before you rent a car.

In addition to the fuel policy and mileage restrictions, check the car rental contract for territorial restrictions. Some car rental companies prohibit crossing borders, while others allow it for a fee.

Anavailable solicitor advises, “Remember that if you drive out of the border and something happens to the car, the damage is not covered by insurance and you have to pay for it in full.”

Some rental companies add a ban on ferry use or driving on unpaved or gravel roads to the rental contract. So be sure you have a perfect overview of all the restrictions before signing , for which you would be paying hefty fines unnecessarily.

Tip: Don’t be surprised if some countries require an international driving licence. without it, they won’t give you a rental vehicle. You can find out more about it on the Ministry of Transport website.

What to look out for when returning the car?

Ask the rental company for written confirmation from the responsible person that the car has been returned in good condition. Then keep the document with your important documents in case the rental company later claims there are defects in the car.

When renting a car abroad, you will often find that you return it outside opening hours. With this method, be sure to take pictures of the car (exterior and interior details) and make sure you return the car as instructed in the car rental agreement before dropping the keys in the mailbox.

I’m dealing with leasing

With leasing, the most important information is that the car is owned by the seller until the buyer pays all the instalments. Leasing is thus based on a rental agreement. There are also two types of leases associated with this:

  • finance – you are expected to buy the car when it is paid off. Typically, you make a higher down payment (called a down payment), which is usually around 30% of the price of the vehicle. For this type, you may find this article on what to look for in a car purchase contract useful.
  • operational – more in the nature of a lease. You are not expected to buy the car at the end, but it is a possibility here too. In addition, with an operating lease there is no obligation to pay a down payment, so there is no need to have any cash ready.

Anavailable attorney advises, “Beware of special offers from leasing companies. We often see promotions where the leasing company knocks down one of the components of the offer (interest, insurance or purchase price) to zero or offers some kind of benefit. But when you compare the total sum of the payments and consider the overall offer (insurance, fees, residual value) comprehensively, you may find that you are actually overpaying.”

What to look out for in an operating lease?

You are not the owner of the car, only the operator, and this implies obligations. When you take over, you will be given all the information on how to behave in the event of an accident or theft, or what damage to the car is accepted and what is not. So read the vehicle use agreement carefully so that you are not unpleasantly surprised when you return it.

Exceeding the mileage limit while using the car

Those who rent a car often make mistakes in the mileage allowed. This is usually between 15,000 and 25,000 km per year. If you exceed this limit, you will end up paying a mileage penalty. Most companies will tolerate hundreds of extra kilometres, but if you run around 1,000 km over the limit, you will face a penalty of several crowns per kilometre.

Vehicle impoundment

When the car is stolen, the lease agreement is settled early. For the answer to what you are facing, look for the lease settlement items that are listed in the vehicle use agreement.

Perhaps the most significant item in this case is the collision insurance company’s claim for the theft of the vehicle. If it seems outright low, get an expert opinion on the vehicle’s usual value. In case the expert concludes that the usual price is higher than the one set by the insurance company, you are entitled to additional compensation. At each step, check that the leasing company is following the contract.

Anavailable lawyer advises, ” Lease terms are often written in a way that is completely incomprehensible to the layperson. If the leasing company does not explain its procedure sufficiently and the whole thing starts to turn against you, get a lawyer involved as soon as possible.”

Whichever wayyou approach your motor vehicle lease agreement, which we’ve outlined today, we’ll review it and adjust it to avoid risks. We’ll handle everything online, at a predetermined price and within 48 hours.

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Author of the article

JUDr. Ondřej Preuss, Ph.D.

Ondřej is the attorney who came up with the idea of providing legal services online. He's been earning his living through legal services for more than 10 years. He especially likes to help clients who may have given up hope in solving their legal issues at work, for example with real estate transfers or copyright licenses.

Education
  • Law, Ph.D, Pf UK in Prague
  • Law, L’université Nancy-II, Nancy
  • Law, Master’s degree (Mgr.), Pf UK in Prague
  • International Territorial Studies (Bc.), FSV UK in Prague

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