Earn money renting out your car?

* Website advertises your car for rent * Checks drivers and provides insurance * Take care if you lease your car...

Earn money renting out your car?

An online scheme that rents out your car to other motorists could earn you cash, but if you owe finance on the vehicle you could end up in hot water instead, according to the Finance and Leasing Association (FLA).

Whipcar.com connects you with drivers looking to rent a car, and is designed to make the process safe and easy by checking their credentials and organising insurance.

Legal issues
This will work if you own your car outright, but the FLA has raised concerns about using such a service if you've taken out a finance agreement. It believes that motorists could be illegally renting their vehicles without realising the implications.

Whipcar.com recognises the issue in its terms and conditions, but there's nothing in the website's frequently asked questions about the potential problem.

Car could be repossessed
The head of motor finance at the FLA, Paul Harrison, said: 'If a customer hires out a car to a third party without the knowledge of the lender, then this is fraud and they'd be in breach of their agreement. The lender might seek to recover the car.'

At least one driver has already fallen foul of the regulations. A Motability customer who publicised his use of Whipcar.com in a magazine has had his finance agreement cancelled and his car collected.

Until finance has been fully satisfied, the car remains the legal property of the finance provider, even if the customer is listed on the V5C logbook as the registered keeper.

Tax evasion
In addition to having their car seized, motorists who illegally sub-let could be required to cover the cost of terminating their finance agreement early. It is also the owner's responsibility to declare any money that is earned through hiring their car to the Inland Revenue, or face the threat of a fine at a later date.

The FLA has more information and advice on its website.

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