Head Lease

Another concept developed in the modern leasing business is that of ‘head-leasing.’ In this arrangement a lessee sub-leases the property to a number of sub-lessees. Then, he invites others to participate in his business by making them share the rentals received by his sub-lessees. For making them participate in receiving rentals, he charges a specified amount from them. This arrangement is not in accordance with the principles of Shariah. The reason is obvious. The lessee does not own the property. He is entitled to benefit from its usufruct only. That usufruct he has passed on to his sub-lessees by contracting a sub-lease with them. Now he does not own anything, neither the corpus of the property, nor its usufruct. What he has is the right to receive rent only. Therefore, he assigns a part of this right to other persons. It is already explained in detail that this right cannot be traded in, because it amounts to selling a receivable debt at a discount which is one of the forms of riba prohibited by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. Therefore, this concept is not acceptable.

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These are some basic features of the ‘financial lease’ which are not in conformity with the dictates of Shariah. While using the lease as an Islamic mode of finance, these shortcomings must be avoided.

The list of the possible shortcomings in the lease agreement is not restricted to what has been mentioned above, but only the basic errors found in different agreements have been pointed out, and the basic principles of Islamic leasing have been summarized. An Islamic lease agreement must conform to all of them.


Source: Republished with the kind permission of Sheikh Muhammad Taqi Usmani.