“Rent-to-own”: portrait of an industry and its clientele (in French only)


Option consommateurs




“Rent-to-buy” or “Rent-to-own” (RTO) businesses offer consumers long-term leasing for current use goods such as furniture, appliances and various electronic products. No credit checks are performed, monthly or weekly payments are low, opportunity to purchase the leased item at the end of lease or by anticipation is given; the offer is tempting. However, a consumer who respects the terms of the contract and pays all rents before acquiring the good leased, generally pays, in total, twice even three times the actual value of the good. Fittingly, contracts often last 20 to 36 months. Commercial activities of these businesses have been denounced globally by numerous consumers associations and for many years. In fact, customers for “Rent-to-own” businesses use a source of financing parallel to traditional credit offered by financial institutions (personal loans, credit margins or credit cards). Except that this type of financing turns out to be extremely costly. Consumer associations denounce exploitation of those who use the services given by these types of businesses. They ascertain abusive commercial practices in “Rent-to-own” type stores and consider that consumers don’t have access to information necessary to make informed decisions. Despite warnings from associations dedicated to consumer protection, despite collective recourses against RTO type businesses, they remain firmly rooted in their milieu and consumers everywhere continue to do business with them, thus contributing in their reaping of colossal profits each year.
We thus asked ourselves why Canadian consumers continue dealing with these types of businesses. Can’t they hear consumer associations screaming exploitation? Do customers who deal with “Rent-to-own” businesses experience difficulties accessing traditional forms of financing? And if so, why? Does the information given to consumers by these businesses prior to and when concluding their contracts allow them to make informed decisions? Are customers dealing with “Rent-to-own” businesses aware of the cost of financing they contracted? Finally, what other reasons, if entailed, pressure consumers to deal with these businesses? It is to answer these questions that we have conducted this research.

This document is available in the following language(s):

Third-Party Information Liability Disclaimer

Some of the information on this Web page has been provided by external sources. The Government of Canada is not responsible for the accuracy, reliability or currency of the information supplied by external sources. Users wishing to rely upon this information should consult directly with the source of the information. Content provided by external sources is not subject to official languages, privacy and accessibility requirements.

French only

OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

50 Sainte-Catherine street West, Suite 440
Montreal, Quebec
H2X 3V4
(514) 598-7288
(514) 598-8511

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

Date Modified: