What are Minimum Lease Payments?

Minimum Lease Payments

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Minimum Lease Payments

Minimum lease payments are the least amount that a lessee is obligated to pay over the lease term to a lessor under a lease agreement. These payments usually include basic rent payments plus any other payments that the lessee is obligated to make to the lessor.

Minimum lease payments might include:

  • Base Rent : This is the regular payment, typically made monthly, quarterly, or annually, that the lessee must pay to the lessor over the lease term.
  • Residual Value Guarantees : These are guarantees made by the lessee to the lessor that the leased property will have a certain value at the end of the lease. If the actual value of the property is less than the guaranteed value, the lessee must make up the difference to the lessor.
  • Penalty for Failure to Renew or Extend the Lease : If the lease agreement stipulates that the lessee must pay a penalty if they choose not to renew or extend the lease, this penalty is also included in the minimum lease payments.

It’s important to note that minimum lease payments do not include contingent rents, which are additional rents that only become payable if certain events occur or certain conditions are met. For example, a lease for retail space might include a contingent rent that becomes payable if the retailer’s sales exceed a certain level.

In accounting, minimum lease payments are important for determining whether a lease should be classified as an operating lease or a capital lease (also known as a finance lease). The present value of the minimum lease payments is compared to the fair value of the leased asset to make this determination.

Example of Minimum Lease Payments

Let’s consider a hypothetical example involving a company that leases equipment.

Suppose ABC Company signs a five-year lease agreement for a piece of machinery. The lease contract requires ABC to pay $1,000 per month for the duration of the lease. This equates to a total of $60,000 ($1,000 * 12 months * 5 years) over the lease term. So, this $60,000 is the basic rent payment.

In addition, the lease agreement includes a residual value guarantee. ABC Company guarantees that the machine will be worth at least $5,000 at the end of the lease. If the machine is worth less than this, ABC Company will have to pay the difference to the lessor. So, this $5,000 is also part of the minimum lease payments.

Furthermore, the lease agreement stipulates that if ABC Company chooses not to renew the lease after five years, it must pay a fee of $2,000 to the lessor. This penalty for failing to renew is also part of the minimum lease payments.

So, the total minimum lease payments, in this case, would be $67,000 ($60,000 basic rent + $5,000 residual value guarantee + $2,000 penalty for not renewing the lease).

Please note that in a real-life situation, the calculation could be more complex. For example, in financial reporting, the lease payments would typically be discounted to their present value, and other factors such as contingent rents or service elements could also come into play.

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