Re-read every term and condition of your copier lease for your rights, obligations and opportunities. Look closely for early termination penalties, cancellation clauses and legal obligations specific to the state in which your business operates. This knowledge lets you know where you stand legally.
Check your contract for “performance standard” clauses. These clauses allow for the lessee to break the lease if the lessor failed to perform up to its legal requirements of the lease. Though these clauses usually come into play on the servicing end of the copier agreement, sometimes the leasing company fails to live up to the mutually agreed to lease requirements. One common “out clause” is if the copier in question did not or cannot perform a function that it was advertised as able to perform.
Examine the service agreement (if any) that was put in place along with the lease. If the servicing company failed to live up to the minimum service level agreements, you have a chance to fight against the company for failure to perform. Because very few copier dealers use in-house leasing, most agreements that have been broken due to poor service are only the service agreements and not copier leases.
Check for “lease assumption” clauses. This is the cleanest way out of a lease. In short, it allows you to find another person to assume the remaining term of your lease. As long as the leasing company allows for lease assumptions, and the new party is credit-worthy, you may be able to transfer the obligation to the other party.
See if you signed a “personal guarantee” (PG) in your lease. If you did, walking away may not be a good option. Basically, a PG holds the signer of the PG personally responsible for the lease terms if the company defaults or goes bankrupt. If you signed a PG, then your personal credit will be in jeopardy should you or your company decide to “walk away” from the agreement.
Walk away from the agreement if no PG was signed and no other options are viable. Make arrangements with the leasing company to pick up the copier, and let the servicing dealer know that you plan to cancel any service agreements that are in place. This step will affect your company’s credit rating and may cause the leasing company to send your account to collections. As with all debt, walking away should be the last resort.
Negotiate with your leasing company. Considering that many businesses go through ups and downs, many leasing companies are willing to work with their clients. Fair and open negotiations are always the best policy.
Tips & Warnings
If your copier contract is fewer than 30 days old, or you signed a lease but have yet to accept delivery, you may be able to cancel without any issues at all. Check your lease, and contact your leasing company right away, before your window of opportunity closes.
It is critical to remember that a copier lease agreement is a legal agreement and that your leasing company will, most likely, try to pursue you for payment. Though walking away is the only option for some people or businesses, it is not a recommended approach to ending your copier lease.