BrightHouse customer? Here are the latest need-to-knows following the rent-to-own firm's collapse
Customers of collapsed rent-to-own company BrightHouse, who may have been mis-sold high cost loans, will not get any money back after the firm's joint administrators said there wasn't enough cash to refund people. However, those still repaying BrightHouse loans must continue to do so as the debts have now been sold on.
BrightHouse allowed people to spread the cost of household items over an extended timeframe using high-interest credit. These customers were typically from low-income households receiving state benefits.
But the firm collapsed in 2020 after its shops were closed due to coronavirus restrictions. Accountancy firm Grant Thornton was then appointed as administrator.
Here's the latest:
Mis-sold a BrightHouse loan? You won't get a refund
Originally, there had been plans to set aside £600,000 for borrowers who felt they had been mis-sold expensive loans by BrightHouse - but joint administrators at Grant Thornton successfully argued in court in May 2022 that the cost of issuing refunds would be "far greater than the funds available to distribute".
This means there's no point filing a complaint for mis-selling to either Grant Thornton or to the Financial Ombudsman Service - the independent body which considers financial complaints where you've had no luck with the firm involved - as there's no money to claim.
Still repaying a BrightHouse loan? You now owe this cash to a new firm
Perch Capital, a credit management company, purchased over 100,000 BrightHouse accounts from Grant Thornton on 4 October 2022, impacting about 60,000 customers. This covers all outstanding BrightHouse loans. If you're one of these customers, you should have received a letter from BrightHouse telling you that you now need to make payment arrangements with Perch.
You should be able to pay using the same method you used to pay BrightHouse - whether that's direct debit, postal order, standing order, recurring payment or cheque. However, you do need to contact Perch to set up your payment arrangement, as it won't be automatically transferred.
If you paid your BrightHouse debt via a debt management plan (DMP) or individual voluntary arrangement (IVA), you'll need to provide the debt management firm with the details of your new Perch account, so it can make sure your payments go to the right place.
You can contact Perch via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01253 531517.
All historical and future interest has been written off on all remaining accounts, so your balance owed should be lower than it was previously. Perch has also confirmed it won't charge any late or missed payment fees.
What to do if you're struggling with debt
If this news has you worrying about any debts owed, assess your situation to work out how serious the issue is. Answer these three questions...
- Do you have sleepless nights or depression/anxiety over debt?
- Do you struggle to meet minimum monthly payments?
- Is your total debt (excluding mortgage/student loan) over a year's salary?
If you answer yes to any of these, it's best to get free, one-to-one debt-counselling help from Citizens Advice, StepChange or National Debtline. And if you need emotional support, try CAP. They're there to help, not judge. See our Debt problems guide for more info and step-by-step help.