Copier Lease Agreement: Overview, Types, & How to Save

Aaron Stahl / Managed Print / February 23, 2024

Despite a digital push, the reality for most businesses includes a substantial need for physical documents. Today’s copiers, or multifunction printers, offer a suite of services far beyond mere copying. They’re indispensable for tasks outside of printing as well, like scanning to email, document resizing, and much more.

There are countless industries that won’t be going fully digital anytime soon — think law offices, schools, and many others. Understanding how to navigate copier lease agreements is critical for businesses seeking the best terms and avoiding common pitfalls.

What Is a Copier Lease Agreement?

A copier lease agreement is a contractual arrangement between a business and its printer supplier or manufacturer that outlines the specifics of a copier lease, such as cost, duration, and services included.

The idea of copier leasing offers businesses a way to utilize the latest copying technology without the significant upfront cost of purchasing. In addition, it can serve to help them to get on a set schedule of updating out-of-date equipment over time.

Copier lease agreements almost always include a maintenance agreement (we have yet to see one that doesn’t but they could be out there). That being said, some businesses prefer to keep these two contracts separate in order to be able to negotiate maintenance agreements as business needs change. Most, however, are included in the copier lease. Either way, a maintenance contract is almost always included somehow. Businesses rarely choose to maintain these complex pieces of equipment on their own.

At first glance, it seems that leasing a copier is the same as renting one. However, there are some slight differences. Rental agreements are typically short-term for older pieces of equipment, while leasing spreads the cost of new equipment over a longer duration with the option to purchase. Furthermore, with a lease, you typically have more rigid rules about when you can upgrade and whether you can break the lease or pay it off early. Whether a copier lease or rental makes more sense for your business will depend on your needs.

Types of Copier Lease Agreements

While there are several types of copier leases, understanding the different options available is crucial for coming out on top during lease negotiations. Each type offers its own set of benefits and considerations.

Fair Market Value Lease

  • Overview: A Fair Market Value (FMV) lease allows businesses to use the latest copiers without owning them, with the option to purchase at the lease’s end for fair market value. FMV leases make up over 95% of the leases that we see with businesses across the U.S.
  • Pros: Lower monthly payments and flexibility at the end of the term to decide whether or not you want to purchase the copier.
  • Cons: Potential for higher total cost if you choose to purchase the copier.

Fixed Purchase Option Lease

  • Overview: Similar to the FMV lease, a Fixed Purchase Option lease offers a predetermined buyout option, which is set during photocopier lease negotiations.
  • Pros: Clarity on future costs and the option to own the copier for a known price.
  • Cons: Higher monthly payments compared to FMV leases. The predefined price may not be in line with the current fair market value.

$1 Buyout Lease

  • Overview: A leasing option where the lessee can purchase the copier for $1 at the end of the lease term, essentially pre-determining the path to ownership from the lease’s start. The main organizations that will utilize this type of lease are government (city and state entities).
  • Pros: Guarantees ownership of the copier for a nominal fee, making it ideal for businesses planning to keep the copier in the long term.
  • Cons: Monthly payments are higher since they contribute towards the copier’s full purchase price over the lease term. Commits the business to the copier, potentially beyond its most efficient use period.

Installment Purchase

  • Overview: This is essentially a finance agreement to purchase the copier over time, with ownership transferring to the business after the final payment.
  • Pros: Results in ownership of the copier and can be cost-effective in the long term. Copier lease can be paid in full in a few months.
  • Cons: Higher upfront costs, and you’re responsible for the copier’s maintenance and eventual replacement.

What to Consider When Leasing a Copier

Choosing the right copier lease requires careful consideration of your business’s specific needs and financial situation. A copier is a crucial tool for daily operations in many industries, and the right lease agreement can provide access to the latest technology without a hefty upfront investment. However, the terms of the lease can greatly affect your overall costs and satisfaction.

Here are the most important factors to consider:


  • Initial costs: Understand all upfront costs, including any down payments or administrative fees associated with the lease.
  • Monthly payments: Assess whether the monthly lease payments fit within your operational budget. Remember, these payments will recur for the entirety of the lease term.
  • Total cost of ownership: Consider the total cost of the copier lease agreement over its lifespan, including service and maintenance fees, to ensure it aligns with your budgeting goals.
  • Tax implications: Leasing a copier can offer potential tax benefits, as lease payments may be deductible as a business expense, potentially lowering your overall tax liability. However, the specifics can vary based on your business structure and local tax laws.

Length of Term

  • Short vs. long term: Shorter leases offer more flexibility but might come with higher monthly payments. Conversely, longer leases usually lower the monthly cost but may tie you to outdated technology.
  • Business growth and needs: Factor in how your business might grow or change during the lease term. You’ll want a photocopier lease that offers the flexibility to upgrade or change equipment as your needs evolve.

Lease Details

  • Service and maintenance: Understand what the lease includes (or doesn’t include) in terms of service, maintenance, and supplies. This can prevent unexpected expenses and ensure the copier remains operational without additional costs.
  • Upgrade options: Look for clauses that allow you to upgrade to newer models during the lease term. Technology evolves rapidly, and the ability to upgrade can be invaluable.
  • Termination clauses: Be clear on the process and any costs associated with terminating the lease early. This is crucial for avoiding hefty penalties should your business’s needs change.
  • Automatic renewal: Some leases automatically renew for an additional term unless you provide notice within a specific timeframe. Be aware of these clauses to avoid unwanted extensions.
  • Annual rate increases: Copier lease agreements may include clauses for annual rate increases intended to adjust the lease payment in line with inflation or operational cost increases.
  • Hidden fees: Be aware of charges that are not immediately apparent when the initial agreement is signed. These may cover extra costs such as delivery, installation, exceeding the agreed-upon monthly copy volume, or administrative fees.
  • End of contract obligations: At the conclusion of a copier lease term, there are often specific obligations that the lessee must fulfill, which can include options to purchase the equipment, return it, or extend the lease.

When leasing a copier, taking the time to understand each of these aspects can help you secure a lease agreement that supports your business’s operational efficiency. Consideration of these factors can lead to a more favorable lease agreement by helping you go into negotiation armed with the knowledge and confidence needed to discuss terms effectively.

How to Negotiate a Copier Lease

Navigating the complexities of a copier lease agreement can be daunting, especially when trying to ensure you’re getting the best terms for your business’s needs and budget. This is where the expertise of third-party companies, such as P3 Cost Analysts, can make a significant difference.

Working with professionals like P3 not only brings a wealth of industry knowledge and negotiation experience to the table but also provides insight into pricing baselines, enabling you to secure unparalleled savings and terms that might not be achievable on your own.

Still, if you’re inclined to handle leasing a copier in-house, understanding the nuances of copier lease negotiations is crucial.

Here’s what you need to know to navigate the process effectively on your own — and how P3 may be better equipped to help.

Understand Your Current Situation

Before entering into negotiations for a new copier lease, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of your current lease agreement and operational needs. This includes having a good idea of your copier usage, including the number of copiers and printers, to ensure your new lease aligns with your actual needs. If you’re currently locked into a copier lease agreement, you’ll want to wait until you’re at least halfway through, though, as this is typically the earliest time to consider renegotiating or entering into a new agreement due to early termination fees.

Target the Right Solution for Your Organization

Identify the specific needs of your organization, whether you’re a small business or a large entity such as a government or educational institution. Consider not only your immediate requirements but also future growth and technology advancements. P3’s approach often enables clients to consolidate vendors and update their equipment, leading to significant savings and operational improvements.

Leverage Market Comparisons

One of the key advantages P3 Cost Analysts brings to the table is the ability to compare your current pricing with that of similar organizations across the country. This national pricing database is a powerful tool in negotiations, providing a reference point to argue for better rates. Most companies lack access to this type of comparative data, which can be instrumental in securing savings.

Ask for Multiple Quotes

Don’t settle on the first offer. Request quotes from several vendors to create competition. This not only gives you options but also provides leverage in negotiations, as vendors are often willing to improve their terms if they know they’re not the only option being considered.

Negotiate the Full Scope of Your Lease Agreement

In the process of negotiating a copier lease, while price is a critical factor, it’s essential to address the entirety of the lease’s terms to ensure a comprehensive agreement that aligns with your business needs. Remember to consider and negotiate the full scope of your lease details, such as termination clauses and annual increases. Leveraging these points effectively in your negotiation will not only reduce costs but also enhance the value of your photocopier lease.

Let P3 Help With Leasing a Copier

While negotiating a copier lease on your own is possible, partnering with P3 Cost Analysts offers a strategic advantage, from initial audit to final negotiation. The expertise and resources P3 brings to the table can not only simplify the process but also maximize your savings and ensure your lease agreement aligns perfectly with your business objectives.

P3 will start by running a comprehensive managed print audit, which will not only help you determine the cost efficiency of your current lease but also pinpoint billing errors and overcharges. From there, the managed print experts will help you negotiate a new copier lease that better aligns with your company’s needs and budget.

The Bottom Line

Navigating copier lease agreements demands careful consideration of various factors to ensure the best terms for your business. From understanding different lease types to negotiating the full scope of agreements, every detail matters.

With the expertise of P3 Cost Analysts, you can streamline the process, leverage market comparisons, and secure unparalleled savings. Reach out to P3 today to optimize your copier lease agreement and enhance your business’s operational efficiency.

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