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KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Hire Purchase Agreements




Deirdre Vann Bourke, Information Manager with South Munster Citizens Information Service discusses hire purchase (HP) agreements.

“A HP agreement is a credit agreement. You hire an item (for example, a car, laptop or television) and pay an agreed amount in monthly payments. You do not own the item until you have made the final payment. Personal Contract Plans (PCPs) are a type of hire purchase agreement.”

What you should know:

* Some HP agreements have a balloon payment at the end of the agreement which is normally higher than your usual monthly payments.
* You do not legally own the item until after the final payment is made, but you do have full use of the item throughout the payment period.
* You cannot legally sell the item until the agreement has been paid off.
* If you do not keep up the repayments, the item can be seized.
* You have the right to end the agreement at any time.

You can take out a hire purchase agreement with a bank, building society or finance company. Hire purchase can also be arranged through a retailer. If you take out a HP agreement with a retailer, you should know that the store or garage is not actually providing the loan. It is acting as an agent for a finance company and will earn commission from the finance company for arranging the loan. This is called being a credit intermediary and the agent must be authorised by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) to do this.

Hire purchase agreements usually last between two and five years. Most HP agreements last three years. You should read a hire purchase contract very carefully before committing yourself to any agreement.

Personal Contract Plans (PCPs)

This is a specific type of hire purchase agreement offered by car dealers as a way to pay for a car. In a PCP contract, you pay a deposit and continue to make regular instalments, usually over three years. There is usually a large lump sum payment at the end of the contract.

At the end of the contract you can either:

Pay the final lump sum and keep the car, or
Return the car to the seller (you can take out a new PCP arrangement on another car)

You do not own the car until the final payment is made. You must stick to certain restrictions on usage and maintenance, such as mileage limits and servicing obligations.

PCPs can seem very attractive because they usually have very low monthly repayments but they can be very complex compared to other types of car finance. It is important to understand all the terms and conditions before you sign up for a PCP.

Hire purchase costs

To calculate the real cost of a hire purchase agreement:

Find the total hire purchase price
Find the price of a cash purchase of the same item
Deduct the cash price (2) from the total hire purchase price (1)

Different lenders have different hire purchase costs. Some will quote an APR (Annual Percentage Rate). This can help you to compare hire purchase costs. It may be misleading to compare a hire purchase APR with that of a normal bank or credit union loan. This is because you are paying for the hire of the goods. Unlike a loan, you do not own them until the last instalment of the HP agreement has been paid.

There is a maximum interest rate of 23% APR for hire purchase agreements since 16 May 2022.

Hire purchase charges and fees

Hire purchase agreements may also involve additional fees and charges. These fees and charges vary, but may include:

* Documentation fees
* Penalty fees for missed or late payments
* Interest surcharge for missed repayments - this means an additional amount of interest will be charged on the amount unpaid
* Completion fee for ownership of the goods to pass to you – sometimes you have to pay a balloon payment much higher than your usual monthly payments
* Repossession charges - you could be charged for repossession costs or for failure to take reasonable care
* Rescheduling charge - if your lender agrees to change the loan terms

Any balloon payment charged on a hire purchase loan has the effect of postponing part of the costs until after the loan. This means that in the earlier months and years, you are paying less off your loan than you would for a bank or a credit union loan. You have to pay the balloon payment to clear the loan and to become the legal owner.

What must be in a HP agreement contract?

A hire purchase agreement is drawn up and signed by you (the hirer) and on behalf of the owner (the finance company). If there is a retailer involved, for example, a garage, it also signs the agreement and supplies the items in question.

The hire purchase must include:

* The item covered under the agreement, for example, a car or computer
* The cash price of the item
* The hire purchase price. This is the total amount you will pay over the life of the loan. The hire purchase price is the monthly payment or instalment multiplied by the number of instalments which you have to make.
* The amount of each instalment you have to pay. Sometimes the final instalment is much larger than all the others (a balloon payment).
* The date you must pay each instalment
* The names and addresses of all the parties to the agreement.
* A statement that you have the right to withdraw from the agreement within 10 days of receiving a copy of the agreement. This is known as a cooling off period. Often you are asked to give away this right by signing a waiver. You do not have to sign this waiver
* A statement that you must tell the owner (finance company) of the locations of the item
* The words "Hire Purchase Agreement" which must be stated clearly and in a prominent place on the agreement form
* The fees, charges, and penalties that apply
* The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) charged (for agreements made since 16 May 2022).

Unless all of these requirements are contained in the agreement, the agreement may not be legally enforceable.

Can I end a HP agreement?

You can end the agreement at any time by giving notice in writing to the owner of the goods (the finance company). This is a legal right under the Consumer Credit Act 1995. You should be aware that breaking a hire purchase contract before its normal end date usually involves penalties.

You have two options:

* Buy the item earlier than planned. You can own the item by paying the difference between the amount already paid and the total hire purchase price. There is usually a reduction on the overall amount due as you are paying the loan off earlier than planned. This reduction is calculated using a recognised formula for early loan repayments. However, the amount of any reduction is relatively small.

* Return the item to the owner and pay half the amount of the total hire purchase price (if the total of instalments already paid have not reached that amount). This is called the half-rule. You do not have to pay half the hire purchase price immediately. Ending an agreement using the half rule may not always be the best solution.

For more information in relation to this topic, please contact a member of the local Citizens Information team in Kerry on 0818 07 7860, they will be happy to assist and make an appointment if necessary. The offices are staffed from Monday to Friday from 10am to 4pm. Alternatively you can email on or log on to for further information.

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Killarney to feature on TG4’s Country Music show

By Sean Moriarty A song about Killarney – once made famous by local Country Music hero Dermot Moriarty – will feature on TG4 tomorrow night (Tuesday). The second series of […]




By Sean Moriarty

A song about Killarney – once made famous by local Country Music hero Dermot Moriarty – will feature on TG4 tomorrow night (Tuesday).

The second series of the Irish channel’s County Music show ‘Viva Ceol Tire’, which highlights emerging Country Music talent in Ireland, airs every Tuesday night at 9.30pm.

The next programme will feature Donegal singer David James’ version of ‘Oh Killarney’.

The programme was filmed entirely on location in Killarney including Torc Waterfall, Ladies View Moll’s Gap and Kate Kearney’s Cottage.

“The song was written by Dennis Allen. However, it was a hit for Dermot Moriarty in the 1980s. The first time I heard it I loved it and I was thrilled with the reaction my version has got,” James, who is from the small village of Killean in Donegal, told the Killarney Advertiser.

“It’s pretty rural but I love it. I’ll be in Country Music 10 years this May. My first gig was in the local GAA hall for my aunt’s 50th birthday. I was 14 and I’ve been at it ever since.”



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Five questions to ask yourself before buying a stock

By Michael O’Connor, When it comes to investing, nothing is certain. There are no perfect stocks to buy because there’s no way of predicting the future with 100% accuracy. […]




By Michael O’Connor,

When it comes to investing, nothing is certain.

There are no perfect stocks to buy because there’s no way of predicting the future with 100% accuracy.

The truth is, investing is hard, and building a portfolio of top stocks that beat the market is something that even financial professionals have trouble doing consistently.

For most people, investing in index funds is the perfect hands-off approach, providing broad exposure to the stock market at a very low fee. Even my own personal portfolio is made up of roughly 70% ETFs despite the fact I invest in the market for a living.

But I believe some stock picking is a good strategy for many hands-on people.

Taking a small portion of your overall portfolio and diligently selecting a small number of companies to invest in gives you an opportunity to learn about the investing process and fully understand the businesses you are investing in, which helps to build conviction in your positions.

From a psychological standpoint “collector’s instinct” kicks in, enabling people to participate and invest more money over time.

Lastly, for Irish investors, there are tax benefits to consider. If you invest in individual stocks, you are taxed at the CGT rate of 33%, and the first €1,270 of your gains are exempt from CGT each year. When investing in index funds or ETFs, you are taxed at the exit tax rate of 41% with no annual exemption.

For those interested in picking individual stocks, here are five questions you should ask yourself before investing in any company.

Do I understand the business?

Too many people invest in businesses they don’t understand because it ‘sounds good’. If you have no idea how the company works, you won’t have the conviction needed to hold onto the stock when an inevitable downturn comes.

Can the balance sheet withstand severe, temporary adversity?

This seems obvious, but so many people invest in companies without understanding how much money a company holds and who they owe money to. Economic cycles are guaranteed. You must ensure that the company has enough cash-on-hand to avoid becoming obsolete when activity slows.

Will the company benefit from long-term trends?

Make sure the company will remain relevant into the future. If the stock is cheap now, it may be cheap for a reason.

Is the company enjoying profitable growth?

Not growth at all costs, but a combination of sustainable growth and value. All this information can be found online at sites like

What are the risk factors?

Is the company trying something new and untested? If yes, who are its competitors and how successful are they? If other players are more established, this company may have a tough time breaking into the market.


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