The mechanism of leasing operations implies a tripartite structure: the lessor/sponsor, the user and the supplier, representing an alternative to the classical method of sale of goods with the payment of the price in installments. Therefore, the lessor/sponsor transfers to the user, upon the request of the same, for a definite period, the right of use upon a good the owner of which the lessor/sponsor is, in exchange for a periodical payment (leasing rate). Under a contract, the lessor/sponsor undertakes that at the end of the leasing period, it shall comply with the user's right to opt for one of the following:
- the acquisition of the good;
- the extension of the leasing contract;
- the termination of the contractual relations.
In the event that the user should choose to acquire the good that was the object of the leasing operation, upon the expiration of the leasing contract the transfer of the right of ownership shall be made in exchange for a cash amount called residual value.
A particular form of leasing is the leaseback or sale and leaseback method. This leasing form implies the leasing by a company of industrial equipment that it owns, to a leasing company, to use the same in a leasing system, with the obligation to later redeem such equipment.
Leasing operations may have as their object immovable goods, as well as movable goods for long-term use, including in the civil circuit, with the exception of audio and video recordings, theatre plays, manuscripts, patents and copyrights.
Ordinance no. 51/1997, as republished, regulates two categories of leasing operations: financial leasing and operational leasing.
To be included in the category of financial leasing, a leasing operation must meet the following requirements:
- The risks and benefits related to the ownership right pass on to the user at the conclusion of the leasing contract.
- The parties expressly provide that upon expiration of the leasing contract the right of ownership over the good shall be transferred to the user.
- The user may choose to purchase the good, and the purchase price shall represent a maximum of 50 percent of the value of entrance (market) that the same has as of the date when the option may be expressed.
The period of use of the good in a leasing system covers at least 75 percent of the normal duration of use of the good, even if the right of ownership over the good is not ultimately transferred.
By comparison, an operational leasing arrangement meets none of the above-mentioned requirements.