How to determine the lease term as per the standard

What is meant by ‘lease term’?

  • An entity should determine the lease term as the non-cancellable period of a lease, together with both:
  • periods covered by an option to extend the lease if the lessee is reasonably certain to exercise that option; and
  • periods covered by an option to terminate the lease if the lessee is reasonably certain not to exercise that option.

In assessing whether a lessee is reasonably certain to exercise an option to extend a lease, or not to exercise an option to terminate a lease, an entity should consider all relevant facts and circumstances that create an economic incentive for the lessee to exercise the option to extend the lease, or not to exercise the option to terminate the lease

  • The lease term begins at the commencement date and includes any rent-free periods provided to the lessee by the lessor.

Right to terminate the lease

  • While assessing the length of the non-cancellable period of a lease, an entity should apply the definition of a contract and determine the period for which the contract is enforceable.
  • A lease is no longer enforceable when the lessee and the lessor each has the right to terminate the lease without permission from the other party with no more than an insignificant penalty.
  • If only a lessee has the right to terminate a lease, that right is considered to be an option to terminate the lease available to the lessee that an entity considers when determining the lease term.
  • If only a lessor has the right to terminate a lease, the non-cancellable period of the lease includes the period covered by the option to terminate the lease.

Option to extend the lease

  • At the commencement date, an entity assesses whether the lessee is reasonably certain to exercise an option to extend the lease or to purchase the underlying asset, or not to exercise an option to terminate the lease.
  • The entity considers all relevant facts and circumstances that create an economic incentive for the lessee to exercise, or not to exercise, the option, including any expected changes in facts and circumstances from the commencement date until the exercise date of the option.
  • An option to extend or terminate a lease may be combined with one or more other contractual features (for example, a residual value guarantee) such that the lessee guarantees the lessor a minimum or fixed cash return that is substantially the same regardless of whether the option is exercised.
  • In such cases, an entity should assume that the lessee is reasonably certain to exercise the option to extend the lease, or not to exercise the option to terminate the lease.

Examples of factors to be considered

Contractual terms and conditions for the optional periods compared with market rates, such as:

  1. the amount of payments for the lease in any optional period;
  2. the amount of any variable payments for the lease or other contingent payments, such as payments resulting from termination penalties and residual value guarantees; and
  3. the terms and conditions of any options that are exercisable after initial optional periods (for example, a purchase option that is exercisable at the end of an extension period at a rate that is currently below market rates).
  1. significant leasehold improvements undertaken (or expected to be undertaken) over the term of the contract that are expected to have significant economic benefit for the lessee when the option to extend or terminate the lease, or to purchase the underlying asset, becomes exercisable;
  2. costs relating to the termination of the lease, such as negotiation costs, relocation costs, costs of identifying another underlying asset suitable for the lessee’s needs, costs of integrating a new asset into the lessee’s operations, or termination penalties and similar costs, including costs associated with returning the underlying asset in a contractually specified condition or to a contractually specified location;
  3. the importance of that underlying asset to the lessee’s operations, considering, for example, whether the underlying asset is a specialised asset, the location of the underlying asset and the availability of suitable alternatives; and
  4. conditionality associated with exercising the option (ie when the option can be exercised only if one or more conditions are met), and the likelihood that those conditions will exist.
  • The shorter the non-cancellable period of a lease, the more likely a lessee is to exercise an option to extend the lease or not to exercise an option to terminate the lease.
  • This is because the costs associated with obtaining a replacement asset are likely to be proportionately higher the shorter the non-cancellable period.

Lessee’s past practice

  • A lessee’s past practice regarding the period over which it has typically used particular types of assets (whether leased or owned), and its economic reasons for doing so, may provide information that is helpful in assessing whether the lessee is reasonably certain to exercise, or not to exercise, an option.
  • For example, if a lessee has typically used particular types of assets for a particular period of time or if the lessee has a practice of frequently exercising options on leases of particular types of underlying assets, the lessee should consider the economic reasons for that past practice in assessing whether it is reasonably certain to exercise an option on leases of those assets.

Extension option

A lessee should reassess whether it is reasonably certain to exercise an extension option, or not to exercise a termination option, upon the occurrence of either a significant event or a significant change in circumstances that:

  1. is within the control of the lessee; and
  2. affects whether the lessee is reasonably certain to exercise an option not previously included in its determination of the lease term, or not to exercise an option previously included in its determination of the lease term

Occurrence of significant event

After the commencement date, a lessee reassesses the lease term upon the occurrence of a significant event or a significant change in circumstances that is within the control of the lessee and affects whether the lessee is reasonably certain to exercise an option not previously included in its determination of the lease term, or not to exercise an option previously included in its determination of the lease term.

Examples of significant events or changes in circumstances include:

  • significant leasehold improvements not anticipated at the commencement date that are expected to have significant economic benefit for the lessee when the option to extend or terminate the lease, or to purchase the underlying asset, becomes exercisable;
  • a significant modification to, or customisation of, the underlying asset that was not anticipated at the commencement date;
  • the inception of a sublease of the underlying asset for a period beyond the end of the previously determined lease term; and
  • a business decision of the lessee that is directly relevant to exercising, or not exercising, an option (for example, a decision to extend the lease of a complementary asset, to dispose of an alternative asset or to dispose of a business unit within which the right-of-use asset is employed).

Revision of the lease term

An entity should revise the lease term if there is a change in the non-cancellable period of a lease. For example, the non-cancellable period of a lease will change if:

  • the lessee exercises an option not previously included in the entity’s determination of the lease term;
  • the lessee does not exercise an option previously included in the entity’s determination of the lease term;
  • an event occurs that contractually obliges the lessee to exercise an option not previously included in the entity’s determination of the lease term; or
  • an event occurs that contractually prohibits the lessee from exercising an option previously included in the entity’s determination of the lease term.

In-substance fixed lease payments

  • Lease payments include any in-substance fixed lease payments. In-substance fixed lease payments are payments that may, in form, contain variability but that, in substance, are unavoidable. In-substance fixed lease payments exist, for example, if:
  • payments are structured as variable lease payments, but there is no genuine variability in those payments. Those payments contain variable clauses that do not have real economic substance.

Examples of those types of payments include:

  1. payments that must be made only if an asset is proven to be capable of operating during the lease, or only if an event occurs that has no genuine possibility of not occurring; or
  2. payments that are initially structured as variable lease for which the variability will be resolved at some point after the commencement date so that the payments become fixed for the remainder of the lease term. Those payments become in-substance fixed payments when the variability is resolved.
  3. there is more than one set of payments that a lessee could make, but only one of those sets of payments is realistic. In this case, an entity should consider the realistic set of payments to be lease payments.
  4. there is more than one realistic set of payments that a lessee could make, but it must make at least one of those sets of payments. In this case, an entity should consider the set of payments that aggregates to the lowest amount (on a discounted basis) to be lease payments.

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