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Leasing is a process by which a firm can obtain the use of a certain fixed assets for which it must pay a series of contractual, periodic, tax deductible payments.

The lessee is the receiver of the services or the assets under the lease contract and the lessor is the owner of the assets. The relationship between the tenant and the landlord is called a tenancy, and can be for a fixed or an indefinite period of time (called the term of the lease). The consideration for the lease is called rent. A gross lease is when the tenant pays a flat rental amount and the landlord pays for all property charges regularly incurred by the ownership from lawnmowers and washing machines to handbags and jewelry.[1]

Under normal circumstances, a freehold owner of property is at liberty to do what they want with their property, including destroy it or hand over possession of the property to a tenant. However, if the owner has surrendered possession to another (the tenant) then any interference with the quiet enjoyment of the property by the tenant in lawful possession is unlawful.

Similar principles apply to real property as well as to personal property, though the terminology would be different. Similar principles apply to sub-leasing, that is the leasing by a tenant in possession to a sub-tenant. The right to sub-lease can be expressly prohibited by the main lease.

A tenancy for years greater than 1 year must be in writing in order to satisfy the Statute of Frauds.


The term of the lease may be fixed, periodic or of indefinite duration.

If it is for a 'tenancy for years', the term ends automatically when the period expires, and no notice needs to be given, in the absence of legal requirements.

The term's duration may be conditional, in which case it lasts until some specified event occurs, such as the death of a specified individual.

A periodic tenancy is one which is renewed automatically, usually on a monthly or weekly basis.

A tenancy at will lasts only as long as the parties wish it to, and may be terminated without penalty by either party.

It is common for a lease to be extended on a "holding over" basis, which normally converts the tenancy to a periodic tenancy on a month by month basis.


Rent is a requirement of leases in common law jurisdiction, but not in civil law jurisdiction. There is no requirement for the rent to be a commercial amount. "Pepper corn" rent or rent of some nominal amount is adequate for this requirement.

Real estate[edit]

There are different types of ownership for land but, in common law states, the most common form is the 'fee simple absolute', where the legal term fee has the old meaning of real property, i.e. real estate. An owner of the 'fee simple' holds all the rights and privileges to that property and, subject to the laws, codes, rules and regulations of the local law, can sell or by contract or grant, permit another to have possession and control of the property through a lease or tenancy agreement. For this purpose, the owner is called the lessor or landlord, and the other person is called the lessee or tenant, and the rights to possess and control the land are exchanged for some payment (called 'consideration' in legal English), usually a monthly rent. The acceptance of rent by the landowner from a tenant creates (or extends) most of the rights of tenancy even without a written lease (or beyond the time limit of an expiring lease). Although leases can be oral agreements that are periodic, i.e. extended indefinitely and automatically, written leases should always define the period of time covered by the lease. In the 1930s, the British government introduced infinite leases, only to remove the power to create these in the early 1990s. A lease may be:

Because ownership is retained by the lessor, he or she always has the better right to enforce all the contractual terms and conditions affecting the use of the land. Normally, the contract will be express (i.e. set out in full and, hopefully, plain language), but where a contract is silent or ambiguous, terms can be implied by a court where this would make commercial sense of the transaction between the parties. One important right that may or may not be allowed the lessee, is the ability to create a sublease or to assign the lease, i.e. to transfer control to a third party. Hence, the builder of an office block may create a lease of the whole in favor of a management company that then finds tenants for the individual units and gives them control.

Under common law, a lease should have three essential characteristics:[clarification needed]

  1. A definite term (whether fixed or periodic)
  2. At a rent
  3. Confer exclusive possession

Tangible personal property[edit]

An owner can allow another the use of a vehicle (such as vehicle leasing of a car, a truck or an airliner) or a computer either for a fixed period of time or at will. This can be a simple leasing transaction, or it can be a transaction intended to allow the user the right to buy the item at some future time.

There are two principal types of leasing, depending upon the party taking the risk of the value of the vehicle (or other leased property) at lease end. In the U.S. this is called Closed-end leasing. In other jurisdictions, it is called hire purchase, lease purchase or finance leasing. These transactions are complicated. The most common problem arises when O makes specific representations as to the quality and reliability of the car to P during the initial negotiations. If what is said induces P to buy the car from O, those representations would usually be enforceable against O. But, in this transaction, O first sells the car to F who makes no representations to P. The laws vary from state to state on the extent to which P might be allowed a remedy if the car proves to be of poor quality.

To clarify the concept, the owner of tangible movables has the power to keep possession and only to transfer control. This may be for:

Leasing is a common method by which airlines acquire their aircraft, usually from companies that specialize in the field of Commercial Aircraft Sales and Leasing. Aircraft leasing transactions are typically divided into finance leasing and operating leasing.

Leasing is also used for ships, in which case the agreement is structured as a bareboat charter.

Businesses often choose to lease rather than buy office equipment, including computers. Since office equipment depreciates rapidly, leasing can be more cost-efficient than ownership.

In addition, more and more unconventional items are becoming available for lease, such as handbags and luxury watches.

Real property[edit]

Whether it is better to lease or buy land will be determined by each state's legal and economic systems. In those countries where acquiring title is complicated, the state imposes high taxes on owners, transaction costs are high, and finance is difficult to obtain, leasing will be the norm. But, freely available credit at low interest rates with minimal tax disadvantages and low transaction costs will encourage land ownership. Whatever the system, most adult consumers have, at some point in their lives, been party to a real estate lease which can be as short as a week, as long as 999 years, or perpetual (only a few states permit ownership to be alienated indefinitely). For commercial property, whether there is a depreciation allowance depends on the local state taxation system. If a lease is created for a term of, say, ten years, the monthly or quarterly rent is a fixed cost during the term. The term of years may have an asset value for balance sheet purposes and, as the term expires, that value depreciates. However, the apportionment of relief as between business expense and depreciating asset is for each state to make (all that is certain is that the lessee cannot have a double allowance).

Private property[edit]

Rental, tenancy, and lease agreements are formal and informal contracts between an identified landlord and tenant giving rights to both parties, e.g. the tenant's right to occupy the accommodation for an agreed term and the landlord’s right to receive an agreed rent. If one of these elements is missing, only a tenancy at will or bare license comes into being. In some legal systems, this has unfortunate consequences. When a formal tenancy is created, the law usually implies obligations for the lessor, e.g. that the property meets certain minimum standards of habitability. With a bare license, some states do not imply any significant lessee protections

A tenancy agreement can be made up of:

Commercial property[edit]

Generally speaking in the modern US legal framework, commercial real property leases fall into one of just a few categories: Office, Retail, Warehouse, Ground, and a catch-all hybrid often referred to as "Mixed Use". Each has certain typical characteristics, although Ground leases may differ somewhat, taking on some characteristics of Retail leasing when associated with a retail project, like a shopping center; and although Mixed Use projects can vary greatly depending upon the various inclusions and the size of the overall project, among other things. It is widely appreciated by those who specialize in commercial leasing, including the business side and the legal side, that, other than hybrids such as Mixed Use project leasing, Retail leasing can have the most complexity.

Mixed Use projects often have elements of most or all of the other categories, not infrequently including a hotel, office building, ground floor retail with residential condominium above and a parking garage. The interplay of all these different components with each other and the underlying property documents which describe, define, and control their interactions, operation and management, as well as the division of costs for the operation of the site, are typically very complex.

Retail leasing often requires the parties to address issues typically not addressed at all in other types of commercial leasing which have no retail component. These additional challenges include such topics as exclusives and restrictive covenants, radius restrictions on near-by self-competition, co-tenancy, no-build areas and visibility corridors, parking ratio assurances, signage concerns (including pylons, monuments, and criteria), CAM and CAM caps and controls (including the "cumulative" and "non-cumulative" concepts), continuous operating covenants, and much more.

Comparison of buying and leasing[edit]

There are many distinct differences between buying and leasing, regardless if such a transaction or agreement applies to property, machinery, equipment or other assets.

The difference lies in that a lease is conceptually very similar to the principle of “borrowing.” The ownership of the leased property (be it land, equipment, merchandise, or etc.) is not transferred under the terms of the lease agreement. The lease gives the lessee the right to use the assets covered under the agreement for the duration of the contracted term, however, upon the completion of said term the lessee is required to return the assets in question to the lessor, thereby completing the terms of the agreement. In a general example having to do with an automobile lease, the vehicle is due back to the dealership at the conclusion of the lease term. Once the vehicle is returned, the automobile lease agreement is completed and the parties (lessor and lessee) separate with no further obligations to each other (assuming there is no damage on the vehicle entitling the dealer to some further compensation). The lessee has no further claim or right to use the vehicle and the lessor, or car dealer no longer collects any payment from the former lessee – the previous driver.

Many lease agreements contain clauses and addenda that outline additional rights, or options for the lessee, to be exercised at will upon the conclusion of the lease (there are numerous equipment lease types[2] with individual features). In automobile leases[3] as a general example, a lessee may have an option to purchase the vehicle, thereby restructuring the agreement and ultimately obtain the ownership of the asset previously leased. In the example of a property lease, the renter (or lessee) may have the option to extend the lease, under pre-determined terms. Such scenarios are numerous and are typically pre-set during the initial creation and negotiation of the agreement between the parties.

Purchasing, on the other hand, involves an agreement that outlines the terms under which the purchaser acquires ownership of the desired item, property or asset. The purchase agreement delineates the purchase price and the terms under which it is to be paid for by the buyer. The overall purchase price can be amortized over a period of time as in the case of financing, or it can be paid in full, resulting in the instant transfer of ownership to the purchaser. In the event that the purchase is financed over a period of time, the ultimate price paid for the item or asset can be greater than the original price due to interest. For an individual deciding between buying or leasing, it is crucial to understand the pros and cons of each.


For businesses, leasing property may have significant financial benefits:


For businesses, leasing property may have significant drawbacks:

International usage[edit]

The practice of leasing is well established in most countries of the world.

However the benefits (in particular the tax benefits) to the lessee and lessor will vary widely depending on national accounting standards and tax regulations. These largely divide into countries observing:

National accounting standards vary in the tests that decide if the lease is a:


  1. ^ "If you want it, rent it ... from a 'must have' handbag to an Aston Martin", The Observer, 2009-01-04. Retrieved on 2009-09-09.
  2. ^ "Equipment Lease Types", SelectBusinessCredit.com. Retrieved on 2011-08-17.
  3. ^ "Automobile Leases", LeaseGuide.com. Retrieved on 2011-08-17.
  4. ^ "Business Leasing". Community Loan Center. Retrieved 11 March 2012. 


Finance Leases :-

Under a finance lease, the finance company owns the asset throughout and the agreement covers a set period – considered to be the full economic life of the asset. Often, there is an option to continue leasing at a reduced, or ‘peppercorn’ rate, at the end of the contracted period.As you are not the owner of the asset, you cannot sell the asset during the rental period.The finance company can claim the writing-down allowances and pass this benefit to you in reduced rentals.

Operating Leases

An operating lease runs for less than the full economic life of the asset, and the lessee is not liable for the financing of its full value. The lessor carries the risk associated with the residual value of the asset at the end of the lease. This type of lease is often used when the asset is likely to have a resale value, for example, aircraft and vehicles. The customer gets the use of the asset, sometimes along with other services. Operating leases are particularly attractive to companies that frequently update or replace equipment and want to use equipment without ownership. The most common form of operating lease in motor finance is contract hire, particularly in the provision of vehicle fleets.