Why write about rent-to-buy?

“Rent to Buy” (also called  “rent to own” or “vendor terms”).  

(updated 15/4/2014)

A quick search will show heaps of positive stuff about ‘creative property strategies’ which “help people buy houses” and provide “win-win” outcomes.    If you look hard enough there are a few negative comments, but it’s hard to find that much. (Since first writing this, there has been some increase in media coverage of the topic).   Some people may argue that they are so positive for everyone, or as they say “win-win”, so there aren’t any problems, but I doubt that’s the reason.  Firstly, the money is to be made in promoting these deals, not in stressing the down-side.

In an attempt to get a speck of balance on this issue, I am sharing some of the downsides of these deals – for purchasers, and in some cases, sellers.

If there is a problem, where are the victims?  Some victims do complain to community legal centres, financial counsellors and regulators – which is often the initial step that leads to prosecution or other enforcement.  Those who have been burnt usually want to “move on” and have no incentive to share their experiences.  Those who share their experiences may be threatened with defamation, or challenged in other ways.  I am aware once case where Cordato Partners and Stephens Lawyers and Consultants have made such threats on behalf of a rent-to-buy business.

Reports to Facebook recently led to the removal of a victims group.  I agreed to administer this group, and a page, which had been established by a victim.   About a month later, I was advised that notifications had been lodged with Facebook about the page and the group.  The group has since been removed by Facebook.

I don’t believe that the group had any inappropriate content, but unfortunately you can’t check that for yourself.  The group had over 300 members.  While I assume there were a number of industry people there having a look, many members were victims, or friends and families of victims.  This was somewhere where information could be shared, and some people were able to be directed to free advice.  Clearly someone was unhappy about this.   Of course Facebook doesn’t check all these complaints individually, so removal doesn’t mean Facebook rules have been breached.  If you doubt this, see what happened to members of a science-based group who supported vaccination on Facebook.


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