The use of leases as a type of off-balance sheet financing is strongly discouraged and does not conform to general accounting principles (GAAP). Companies that need expensive machinery – such as construction, manufacturing, factory leasing, printing, road transport, transportation and engineering – can use leases, as can startups that have few guarantees to establish lines of credit. In Malaysia, the Rental Transactions Act is the Hire Purchase Act of 1967, which came into force on April 11, 1968, after leasing became popular when purchasing expensive consumer goods such as cars, business machinery and industrial machinery. The purchase of cars is the most common type of rental contract in Malaysia and the refund can take up to 9 years from the date of execution of the contract. The lease was developed in the 19th century in the UK to allow cash-shortage customers to buy an expensive purchase that they would otherwise have to delay or give up. For example, in cases where a buyer cannot afford to pay the price charged for a property as a lump sum, but can pay a percentage in the form of a deposit, a rental agreement allows the buyer to rent the goods for a monthly rent. If an amount equal to the full initial price, plus interest, has been paid in equal tranches, the buyer may then exercise the opportunity to purchase the goods at a predetermined price (usually a nominal amount) or return the goods to the owner. Like leasing, leases allow companies with inefficient working capital to provide assets. It can also be tax efficient than standard credits, as payments are accounted for as expenses – although all savings are offset by possible tax benefits on depreciation. Tenant buyers can return the goods, so the initial agreement is cancelled as long as they have made the required minimum payments. However, buyers suffer a huge loss on goods returned or recovered because they lose the amount they paid for the purchase up to that date.
Consumers who wish to obtain independent information or who wish to help understand the terms of their lease (or other loan) are encouraged to contact the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission – see “Where to go” below.