June 20, 2024

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Hire purchase (abbreviated HP, colloquially sometimes never-never) is the legal term for a contract, in which a purchaser agrees to pay for goods in parts or a percentage over a number of months. In Canada and the United States, a hire purchase is termed an installment plan although these may differ slightly as in a hire purchase agreement the ownership of the good remains with the seller until the last payment is made. Other analogous practices are described as closed-end leasing or rent to own. The hire purchase agreement was developed in the United Kingdom in the 19th century to allow customers with a cash shortage to make an expensive purchase they otherwise would have to delay or forgo. For example in cases where a buyer cannot afford to pay the asked price for an item of property as a lump sum but can afford to pay a percentage as a deposit, a hire-purchase contract allows the buyer to hire the goods for a monthly rent. When a sum equal to the original full price plus interest has been paid in equal installments, the buyer may then exercise an option to buy the goods at a predetermined price (usually a nominal sum) or return the goods to the owner. If the buyer defaults in paying the installments, the owner may repossess the goods, a vendor protection not available with unsecured-consumer-credit systems. HP is frequently advantageous to consumers because it spreads the cost of expensive items over an extended time period. Business consumers may find the different balance sheet and taxation treatment of hire-purchased goods beneficial to their taxable income. The need for HP is reduced when consumers have collateral or other forms of credit readily available. These contracts are most commonly used for items such as cars and high value electrical goods where the purchasers are unable to pay for the goods directly.

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