This afternoon (30th March 2020), the announcement was made that Brighthouse (the biggest rent-to-own operator in the UK) had collapsed, raising questions for many consumers with regards to their rights under prior hire purchase agreements.
‘Hire-purchase’, ‘conditional sale agreement’ or ‘rent-to-own’ are all generally used to refer to an agreement between a lender (in this case Brighthouse) and a consumer. The store or ‘lender’ allows the customer to ‘rent’ items such as electrical equipment, furniture and white goods, paying the balance off over time. At the end of the agreement, the property belongs to the customer.
This form of purchasing is usually more expensive for the consumer over time as it includes higher rates of interest (APR) paid in the long run.
consumeradvice.scot has assembled a guide for consumers on what they should do if they are a Brighthouse customer –
What should I do about my weekly / monthly payments?
Consumers are advised to continue making payments, as falling behind may incur additional charges as per the agreements that are currently in place. Late or missed payments could also still impact on credit files. It is expected that the receivers will take control of the day-to-day business in the short term.
What should I do if I cannot afford to make my repayments?
In the first instance, consumers should contact Brighthouse directly to negotiate. If this is not possible, the creditor may be able to repossess the goods.
The original agreement should contain a section titled ‘Repossession: your rights’, which will contain information on how much you need to have paid to stop the creditor taking the goods back without a court order or your consent.
You may also be able to return the item. However, specific details included within the agreement should be checked, as it may stipulate a minimum amount that must be paid in order to do this.
I have payment concerns due to coronavirus. What should I do?
Consumers who are currently experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the coronavirus outbreak are encouraged to communicate with the company to negotiate potential payment holidays or alternative ways of paying.
Administrators Grant Thornton are now in control of the company and will attempt to find buyers for some, or all of Brighthouse’s operations.
At the time of writing, contact should continue to be made to Brighthouse through their usual channels. It is yet to be announced what alternative arrangements or changes to normal operations will be made.
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