Following an investigation, former Labour leader Ed Miliband has called on the rent-to-own industry to be better regulated.
Having investigated some rent-to-own companies in his constituency of Doncaster, Miliband said "my constituents have told me they can end up paying three times as much, if they miss a payment or are late the costs spiral or worse, they lose their [product] along with their money".
People across the country are using companies such as BrightHouse or Perfect Home when they can't afford to buy a product outright or access credit. They instead pay in instalments until they own it.
Miliband has previously campaigned against rent-to-own companies, but said that he believes companies are taking advantage of people who have nowhere else to go.
"From what I’ve seen too often rent-to-own companies are taking advantage of people who have nowhere else to go, the regulator needs to stop the most vulnerable in our society being taken advantage of. Rent-to-own companies need to stop selling goods to people who just can’t afford them," he said in the investigation for the Victoria Derbyshire programme.
"And I think there should be a cap on the total costs that rent-to-own companies can charge. It’s been done with the pay day lenders, like Wonga, and it’s worked."
On the show this morning, Citizens Advice said it receives 11,000 complaints per year about the sector, and has evidence suggesting affordability checks were not always being properly conducted by firms.
BrightHouse said in response: "We note that this feature is presented by an avowed critic, who consistently misrepresents our business. BrightHouse serves those lower-income families who are excluded from mainstream credit.
"Rent-to-own is a very different proposition to other forms of retail. Our customers appreciate the ability to have quality products in their homes, without the risk of unexpected bills and, with the flexibility to return the product at any time and for any reason, owing nothing further. We undertake extensive affordability assessments before lending and seek to support all those customers who find themselves in difficulty."