There are two main classifications of leases: finance leases and operating leases. In substance, a finance lease is equivalent to the purchase of some asset (lease to own) by the buyer (lessee) that is directly financed by the seller (lessor). An operating lease is an agreement allowing the lessee to use some asset for a period of time, essentially a rental.
Leases also have perceived financial and tax reporting advantages. The lessor may be better positioned to manage servicing the asset and to take advantage of tax benefits of ownership, such as depreciation and interest. As a result, leasing the asset may be less costly than owning the asset for the lessee.