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HMRC internal manual

Business Leasing Manual

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HM Revenue & Customs
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Defining long funding leases: miscellaneous definitions: term of a lease: 'reasonably certain': example 1 - extending term is expensive

H Ltd leases machines that cost £4,000 each. Lease rentals are £1,000 a year. Minimum lease period is 5 years. At the 5-year point, each lessee can either

  • walk away without further payment, whether by not exercising an option to extend the lease term or exercising an option to terminate it, or
  • carry on renting the machine for £1000 a year.

In most cases it would not be reasonably certain that the lessees would exercise their option to extend the lease term because they would, in effect, be paying a high price to do so (the same rental as was charged for the asset when new, even though it has, in effect, been paid for).

If, for example, H Ltd knew from experience that on average 10% extend beyond 5 years (but it is not known which 10%) then none of the leases are reasonably certain to extend beyond 5 years.

However, if H Ltd knows that the great majority of lessees exercise an option to extend the lease term then it is reasonably certain that the options will be exercised - see example 2.