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Difference Between Lease and Rent

You may be surprised to learn that even though the two terms might sound similar, leasing and renting are far from the same thing. One of the main differences between a lease agreement and a rental agreement is how much time they cover. A lease agreement, for example, might last five years, while a rental agreement might only last five days.

In this article, you’ll learn the difference between lease and rent in five categories: cars, equipment, apartments, houses, and commercial properties. Then, we’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of both that you should know.

Examples of When You Lease vs. Rent

Knowing when to lease versus renting is valuable financial knowledge that can help you lead a better future. Keep reading to find out the difference between lease and rent regarding cars, equipment, apartments, houses, and commercial properties.

Lease vs. Rent Car

Cars are one of the essential things in many Americans’ lives. They get us from point A to point B, take us on road trips, to doctors’ appointments, and to see our friends. But how do you know when to lease or rent a car?

The answer is simple and answers one question – how long do you need the vehicle?

If you need a transportation solution that will last several months, you would be better off going with a lease for your vehicle. Not only will you save money, but rental cars are not optimized to be used for such an extended period, so you may be hard-pressed to find a rental agreement for a vehicle that works for you long-term. Vehicle leases are designed for people who have short-term needs for a car.

If you decide to keep the vehicle after your lease term concludes, many leasing agencies have terms built into their contracts to allow that, which is called a lease purchase agreement .

On the other hand, if you need a rental car to drive while your vehicle is in the shop for a few days or while you’re on a week-long vacation, it makes more sense to rent a car. Car rentals are perfect for short-term needs and often offer the best benefits to drivers who only need a vehicle for a short amount of time.

Either way, leasing and renting are great ways to solve temporary problems with transportation.

Lease vs. Rent Equipment

If you’ve ever completed a DIY project in your home or office, you probably know that expensive equipment would make your job a lot easier. Leasing or renting equipment allows you to have access to this equipment without making a substantial financial commitment to an item that you may only use for a short time.

An equipment lease is perfect if you need to complete a long-term project, such as home renovations. Leasing companies offer affordable rates to customers who need access to equipment for a short amount of time but not short enough to justify rental equipment.

Renting equipment is better suited for projects that should only take a few days. You often take advantage of a lower upfront cost when you lease since the financial interest is only for a few days. Consider renting professional equipment for smaller jobs, such as cleaning your carpets or power washing the outside of your home.

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Lease vs. Rent Apartment

When you sign a lease or sublease agreement for an apartment, you typically agree to pay rent in exchange for a place to live for 12 or more months at a time. In exchange for your long-term commitment, many landlords will offer a discount on rent. This is ideal for people who want to put roots down where they are and don’t plan on making any changes to their living situations for the duration of the residential lease agreement .

Apartment rentals, on the other hand, are perfect for people looking for a more short-term commitment. Perhaps you are moving to a new town and want to get the lay of the land before you settle down, or you’re waiting on the closing date for a new home. Whatever the reason, rental apartments prevent people from being forced into extended hotel stays by offering a month-to-month rental agreement instead of a long-term lease.

Monthly payments for apartment rentals are usually slightly higher when compared to leases since it is typically uncertain when a tenant will move to a new location. Both agreements typically require a security deposit.

Lease vs. Rent House

Leasing versus renting a home is like the situation with apartments. The only difference between the two terms when it comes to real estate is the length of the contract. If you are looking for a long-term place to stay for six months or longer, a lease agreement is typically the right option.

On the other hand, if you need a short-term housing solution, you are likely better suited to entering into a rental agreement. Rental agreements are ideal for short-term solutions because you won’t have to pay an early termination fee for breaking your contract, unlike lease agreements.

Typically, when you’re ready to move, you’ll need to provide the last month’s rent and 30-days’ notice of your intent to vacate, and you’re good to go.

Lease vs. Rent Commercial Property

The best example for leasing versus renting commercial properties is the difference between retail stores and seasonal popup businesses.

If you run a retail store and need a long-term home to direct clientele to, you need a commercial lease agreement . This gives you the stability of knowing that you’ll be in the same place for a set amount of time so that you can focus on growing your business.

For business ventures like seasonal Halloween stores, renting makes more sense. Like the previous examples, any short-term commitment you want to make should be by the rental agreement, not leasing.

Check out this article to learn more about the differences between leasing and renting.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Leasing

One of the most significant advantages of leasing lies in the stability of the agreement. You and the lessor know that your agreement is long-term, and there are protections set in place that protect each of your interests. When it comes to housing, a discount is often offered to lease versus rent.

The downside to leasing is that if you need to break your contract early for some reason, you might be stuck with fees as a result. Check your leasing agreement to confirm what fees might apply.

Here is an article about the advantages and disadvantages of leasing.

Advantages and Disadvantages to Renting

Renting can be an excellent option for people seeking a temporary, short-term solution to a problem, whether a month-to-month housing agreement or weeklong carpet shampooer rental. The small things in life are great for renting.

Renting isn’t always the best option, though. When you rent a house or apartment, you’re likely to pay more to the landlord in exchange for the reduced amount of time you’ll be staying there. You might also pay additional fees to keep items past the agreed-upon date, or rentals might not be readily available when you need them.

If you need help with a rental or lease agreement, real estate lawyers can help. Post a project on ContractsCounsel today to get in touch with experienced real estate lawyers who know all the ins and outs of leasing and renting.


ContractsCounsel is not a law firm, and this post should not be considered and does not contain legal advice. To ensure the information and advice in this post are correct, sufficient, and appropriate for your situation, please consult a licensed attorney. Also, using or accessing ContractsCounsel's site does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and ContractsCounsel.


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