Essential information for end of life vehicle dismantling, depollution and recycling

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Own your own vehicle recycling premises or pay rent to a landlord?

Which is a more viable option for a vehicle recycling operator? Owning your own premises or paying rent? In part one of this finance series, Martin Cook, Director at Exel Finance, provides ATF Professional readers with his expertise in the processes and obstacles that vehicle recyclers can sometimes face when looking to secure a loan. 


Own your own vehicle recycling premises or pay rent to a landlord? p
Martin Cook

The answer for most business owners is obvious – they want to own their own premises? Why? Renting is dead money, and for an equivalent payment or even a lower outlay, you could own an asset that will only appreciate in value over the medium to long term. Furthermore, after you stop working, it could also provide you with an attractive additional income in retirement.

But how can I buy my own premises, you might ask. If you are currently renting and you like your premises, you could ask your landlord if he is interested in selling it to you. Alternatively, you may want to move into bigger or more suitable premises and could look at premises for sale rather than to let. Either way, you will need a commercial mortgage to buy your own premises. Here we need to make a distinction – you would not be applying for a mortgage for investment purposes but as an owner-occupier, and therefore, you don’t need to have any previous experience as a landlord. Lenders are very comfortable with business owners taking out a mortgage to buy their own premises. 

Own your own vehicle recycling premises or pay rent to a landlord? p two re

How much could you borrow? Most lenders will lend up to 70% of the purchase price or valuation, whichever is the lower. It is possible to get higher loans, but you would be wise to expect to raise at least 30% of the purchase price by way of a deposit.

It is important to understand that lenders are very cautious and need four essential criteria to be aligned before they will consider making you a mortgage offer. 

Firstly, they want to be sure that the property their loan is secured on is mortgageable.  

Secondly, they have to be convinced that your profits after making certain adjustments are more than adequate to service the loan. 

Thirdly, they will want to look at your personal credit standing to ensure you have a track record of both taking credit and consistently paying for that credit every month – no defaults, no CCJs and no bankruptcies; Some adverse credit may be acceptable.

Finally, they need to be comfortable with the industry you are working in. 

Some industries will not be considered by any lender. For example, during the COVID-19 pandemic, lenders would not consider mortgages for non-essential retail premises. 

So what about your industry? It is a very good question. In my experience, certain high street lenders will not consider loans for businesses in the vehicle recycling industry. One lender stated that the concern was over land pollution.  

I submitted an application for a commercial mortgage on behalf of a client who ticked all the boxes: good security, adequate and consistent profits, and a clean credit history. But when a senior underwriter reviewed the application, I received this response: 

“This type of business is classed as being part of a High-Risk Industry within our lending policy so we exercise extra caution when assessing these types of cases and this would not be within our lending appetite at the moment”.

Which was a polite way of declining the case. I took issue with the ‘High-Risk Industry’ classification, and so I decided to appeal. I took on the challenge to educate the underwriter as to the fact that the recycling industry is highly regulated, makes two significant contributions to society and should not be penalised because of an incorrect and outdated perception.

In my appeal, I made the following points amongst others:

  • Strenuous efforts and strict procedures are followed to ensure there is never any risk of even an approach to any kind of land contamination.  
  • Furthermore, my client is not a car breaker or a scrap dealer, but a green parts distributor selling clean, guaranteed and certified parts at up to 75% less than the RRP for new parts. Thus far from polluting land, my client actually makes a great contribution to the environment by helping to reduce CO2 emissions by avoiding the unnecessary production of new parts. 
  • In addition, all green parts distributors help to reduce the spiralling cost of motor insurance claims and thus motor insurance premiums for members of the public.  

I am pleased to say that the original decision was overturned, and we got a commercial mortgage offer for the full amount we applied for and at a competitive interest rate. 

Own your own vehicle recycling premises or pay rent to a landlord? p three

It is sad to relate that some lenders have an outdated and incorrect perception of the vehicle recycling industry.  But as long as you can tick all the boxes, are compliant in following correct procedures and have licences and regular audits, there are some lenders out there that will welcome your business. 

Look out for part two of this series – How much can I borrow based on my profits, and what will a commercial mortgage cost me?

If you would like to get in touch with Martin, please email him at 


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Owain Griffiths

Owain Griffiths

Head of Circular Economy at Volvo Cars

Owain joined Volvo Cars in June 2021 to lead Circular Economy in the Global Sustainability Team. The company has committed to being a circular business by 2040 and has financial, recycled content and CO2 based targets for 2025, all of which Owain is working across the company to make happen. Owain previously worked for circular economy consultancy Oakdene Hollins where he advised businesses on evidence led circular economy implementation. 

Turning into a circular business and the importance of vehicle reuse and recycling.

The presentation will cover the work Volvo Cars is doing to achieve 2025 but mainly focus on the transformational work towards 2040 and the business and value chain changes being considered. Attention will be paid to the way vehicles are being dealt with at the end of life and the complexities of closing material and component loops. Opportunities and challenges which Volvo Cars is facing will be presented including engagement with 3rd parties and increasing pressure from stakeholders.

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e2e Total Loss Vehicle Management [e2e] is the UK’s only salvage and automotive recycling network with nationwide, environmentally compliant sites delivering performance resilience and service reliability to the insurance and fleet markets.  The network’s online salvage auction drives strong salvage resale values and faster sales.  e2e’s salvage clients have access to the network’s stocks of over 5 million quality graded, warranty assured reclaimed parts. 

The power of the network model means e2e has the ability to influence industry standards and is committed to continually raising the bar whilst redefining the role and perceived value of the salvage operator.  Network members adhere to robust service level agreements, against which they are audited, in order to ensure performance consistency and a market leading customer experience.  

The salvage and recycling operating environment is evolving rapidly, and e2e is anticipating, listening and responding to changing market needs.  Regulatory compliance, ESG, reclaimed parts, customer experience, EVs, new vehicle technologies, data and reputation risk are just some of many considerations linked to the procurement of salvage services.  e2e will drive further added value to clients and members through the adoption and application of emerging technologies, continuing to differentiate its proposition and position salvage services as a professional partnership. 

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