Equipment Leasing and Finance Association - Equiping Business for Success

Lenders License

Issue Overview

All state and local governments regulate business operations, specifying registration and licensing requirements that must be met in order to undertake commercial activity. However, California stands out as the state with the most onerous licensing requirements impacting the commercial equipment leasing and finance sector. Provisions of the law and regulations are too often based on purchase rather than lease transactions that take place in a traditional retail store, which ELFA members do not possess.  Concentration on the consumer market with disregard for realities of the business-to-business equipment leasing industry drives up the cost of funds loaned to businesses in the state, reducing availability of credit and limiting access to vital economic capital.

No other state requires registration for the commercial equipment leasing and finance sector in a manner similar to the requirements under the California Finance Lenders Law (CFL). Under the CFL, any person engaged in the business of making consumer or commercial loans must be licensed in California. California’s requirements are onerous and efforts to expand the law’s scope create an increasingly unfriendly finance environment for small businesses and the lenders and brokers who make loans to them.

Current California law fails to account for the unique nature of the commercial equipment leasing and finance industry. While traditional depository institutions are exempted from the California law, other types of lenders are caught up in the law’s requirements, even though they are not traditional retail stores and may never see the piece of equipment they are financing for commercial purposes. Disregard for the realities of the industry drives up the cost of funds loaned to businesses in the state, reducing availability of credit and limiting access to vital economic capital.

Businesses depend on financing to make equipment, machinery, and inventory acquisitions that are critical to their successes. Limiting access to commercial equipment financing by imposing onerous compliance requirements has negative economic effects.

A handful of other states have attempted to copy California lender’s license law but none of those efforts have been successful due to the issues related to the California law. Legislation based on California’s law would establish finance lenders licensing regimes that would severely restrict the financing of commercial equipment leases and increase the cost of financing. ELFA continues to monitor state legislatures’ interest in lender’s license laws and works with in-state coalitions in the states where they arise to educate lawmakers on the negative economic impacts.

Resources & Advocacy Materials

Legislative Testimony


  • 2019 ELFA SB 1235 DBO Comments. On January 21, ELFA submitted comments regarding recently passed California SB 1235 (lender disclosure requirements) to the California Department of Business Oversight (DBO) as invited by the department. Even though ELFA won hard fought exemptions within this legislation, the comments filed seek to provide clarity and our ongoing industry guidance. These comments were created by an ELFA workgroup over a four month period.
  • California | Opposition Testimony for Legislation Seeking Interest Rate Disclosures. In April 2018, ELFA submitted testimony in opposition to California AB 3207 to the California Assembly Committee on Privacy And Consumer Protection. AB 3207 would impose interest rate disclosure requirements on licensed brokers.
  • California | Opposition Testimony for Legislation Seeking to Broaden Definition of a Broker. In May 2018, ELFA submitted opposition testimony for California SB 1235 to the California State Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill would raise the cost of extending credit and chill lending to small commercial customers seeking financing below the ceiling it establishes.

Requests for Guidance


External Resources