Lease financing is one of the important sources of medium- and long-term financing where the owner of an asset gives another person, the right to use that asset against periodical payments. The owner of the asset is known as lessor and the user is called lessee.
The periodical payment made by the lessee to the lessor is known as lease rental. Under lease financing, lessee is given the right to use the asset but the ownership lies with the lessor and at the end of the lease contract, the asset is returned to the lessor or an option is given to the lessee either to purchase the asset or to renew the lease agreement.
Different Types of Lease:
Depending upon the transfer of risk and rewards to the lessee, the period of lease and the number of parties to the transaction, lease financing can be classified into two categories. Finance lease and operating lease.
It is the lease where the lessor transfers substantially all the risks and rewards of ownership of assets to the lessee for lease rentals. In other words, it puts the lessee in the same condition as he/she would have been if he/she had purchased the asset. Finance lease has two phases: The first one is called primary period. This is non-cancellable period and in this period, the lessor recovers his total investment through lease rental. The primary period may last for indefinite period of time. The lease rental for the secondary period is much smaller than that of primary period.
Features of Finance Lease
(i) A finance lease is a device that gives the lessee a right to use an asset.
(ii) The lease rental charged by the lessor during the primary period of lease is sufficient to recover his/her investment.
(iii) The lease rental for the secondary period is much smaller. This is often known as peppercorn rental.
(iv) Lease is responsible for the maintenance of asset.
(v) No asset-based risk and rewards is taken by lessor.
(vi) Such type of lease is non-cancellable; the lessor’s investment is assured.
Lease other than finance lease is called operating lease. Here risks and rewards incidental to the ownership of asset are not transferred by the lessor to the lessee. The term of such lease is much less than the economic life of the asset and thus the total investment of the lessor is not recovered through lease rental during the primary period of lease. In case of operating lease, the lessor usually provides advice to the lessee for repair, maintenance and technical knowhow of the leased asset and that is why this type of lease is also known as service lease.
Features of Operating Lease
(i) The lease term is much lower than the economic life of the asset.
(ii) The lessee has the right to terminate the lease by giving a short notice and no penalty is charged for that.
(iii) The lessor provides the technical knowhow of the leased asset to the lessee.
(iv) Risks and rewards incidental to the ownership of asset are borne by the lessor.
(v) Lessor has to depend on leasing of an asset to different lessee for recovery of his/her investment.
Advantage of Lease Financing
Lease financing has following advantages
The advantages of lease financing from the point of view of lessor are summarized below
- Assured Regular Income: – Lessor gets lease rental by leasing an asset during the period of lease which is an assured and regular income.
- Preservation of Ownership: – In case of finance lease, the lessor transfers all the risk and rewards incidental to ownership to the lessee without the transfer of ownership of asset hence the ownership lies with the lessor.
- Benefit of Tax: – As ownership lies with the lessor, tax benefit is enjoyed by the lessor by way of depreciation in respect of leased asset.
- High Profitability: – The business of leasing is highly profitable since the rate of return based on lease rental, is much higher than the interest payable on financing the asset.
- High Potentiality of Growth: – The demand for leasing is steadily increasing because it is one of the cost efficient forms of financing. Economic growth can be maintained even during the period of depression. Thus, the growth potentiality of leasing is much higher as compared to other forms of business.
- Recovery of Investment: – In case of finance lease, the lessor can recover the total investment through lease rentals.
The advantages of lease financing from the point of view of lessee are discussed below:
- Use of Capital Goods: – A business will not have to spend a lot of money for acquiring an asset but it can use an asset by paying small monthly or yearly rentals.
- Tax Benefits: – A company is able to enjoy the tax advantage on lease payments as lease payments can be deducted as a business expense.
- Cheaper: – Leasing is a source of financing which is cheaper than almost all other sources of financing.
- Technical Assistance: – Lessee gets some sort of technical support from the lessor in respect of leased asset.
- Inflation Friendly: – Leasing is inflation friendly, the lessee has to pay fixed amount of rentals each year even if the cost of the asset goes up.
- Ownership: – After the expiry of primary period, lessor offers the lessee to purchase the assets— by paying a very small sum of money.
Disadvantages of Lease Financing
Lease financing suffers from the following disadvantages
- Unprofitable in Case of Inflation: – Lessor gets fixed amount of lease rental every year and they cannot increase this even if the cost of asset goes up.
- Double Taxation: – Sales tax may be charged twice. First at the time of purchase of asset and second at the time of leasing the asset.
- Greater Chance of Damage of Asset: – As ownership is not transferred, the lessee uses the asset carelessly and there is a great chance that asset cannot be useable after the expiry of primary period of lease.
The disadvantages of lease financing from lessee’s point of view are given below:
- Compulsion: – Finance lease is non-cancellable and even if a company does not want to use the asset, lessee is required to pay the lease rentals.
- Ownership: – The lessee will not become the owner of the asset at the end of lease agreement unless he decides to purchase it.
- Costly: – Lease financing is more costly than other sources of financing because lessee has to pay lease rental as well as expenses incidental to the ownership of the asset.
- Understatement of Asset: – As lessee is not the owner of the asset, such an asset cannot be shown in the balance sheet which leads to understatement of lessee’s asset.