What is a Capital Lease?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

Capital leases are a particular form of lease agreement that allows an individual or company to enter into a relationship with a supplier in which there is an excellent chance that the lessee will wish to acquire full ownership of the product at the end of the lease agreement. Typically, there are specific conditions that must exist and are documented within the terms of the lease.

Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone
Businesswoman talking on a mobile phone

A capital lease is sometimes referred to as a conditional sales contract. The advantage to the lessee or buyer is the fact that the product can be paid for over time, without the need for taking out a loan to handle the transaction. Along with making it possible for the lessee to acquire and begin to enjoy the product immediately, a capital lease also usually includes some stipulations for terminating the agreement early. Those clauses help to provide the lessor with a reasonable level of protection, in the event that the lessee has a change of heart after the agreement has been in place for only a short time.

Like many leases, the capital lease is entered into with expectations on the part of everyone concerned. The lessee anticipates being able to enjoy the product, pay a fixed number of payments on an agreed upon schedule, and have the option of executing a final purchase for the product once the payments have been settled in full. The lessor benefits from the capital lease by placing a product with a customer, receiving a regular fee for that product, and having a reasonable expectation of ultimately selling the product.

While some of the exact structure of a capital lease will vary from one situation to another, there are a few elements that seem to be included in most of these types of leases. First, there is usually some process of depreciation built into the agreement. This helps to ensure that at the end of the capital lease, the lessee will pay no more than a fair market value to gain full ownership of the product. Second, the lessor extends a certain amount of credit for the lease payments that were made, which are applied to the final sale price for the item. In some cases, the actual execution of these two provisions results in the lessee paying only a small sum after the credit is extended.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I'm really hoping to get a capital lease on the property that I want to open up my new business on. This business has been a dream of mine for many years. My dream is finally coming true!

I'm planning on running this business until I retire, as there is nothing else that I have ever really wanted to do.

I don't want to go through the bank to get a loan for the property though. It just seems like a lot of extra hassle, and the interest can be outrageous. I'm hoping for a capital lease, so that I can eventually own the property without having to go through all of those extra steps.


I was considering buying a piece of residential property in this fashion, under a land contract. Is this the same thing as a capital lease agreement? Or does a capital lease only refer to the leasing of buildings to be used for commercial purposes?

Post your comments
Forgot password?