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Types of Leases

The type of equipment you want to lease, the term, and whether you want to keep the equipment at the end of the term, will all be factors in choosing a lease.

Lessees may lease one piece of equipment at a time or many items with a single lease. Companies that continually acquire equipment may use a master lease to avoid executing a new contract for every acquisition. 


Two common types of leases are operating leases and finance leases.


  • With an operating lease, the term is shorter than the expected useful life of the equipment. Rental payments do not cover the equipment cost for the lessor during the initial lease term. This type of lease is popular for high-tech equipment, because shorter term leases help equipment users stay ahead of equipment obsolescence. The lessor uses its equipment remarketing expertise to subsequently find other users for the returned equipment, something the typical equipment user does not have time or ability to do.

  • With a finance lease, the term is longer, more nearly covering the useful life of the equipment. Rentals tend to be lower because of the longer term and less residual risk. From an accounting standpoint, an operating lease is the simplest type of lease for you to account for because you only expense rentals; there is no requirement to add the asset to the balance sheet, as long as the footnotes to the financial statements indicate the amount of your firm's lease rental obligations.

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