The Consumer Rights Act 2015 clarifies the rights of customers when they are hiring goods. Most importantly, it introduces the right to reject goods that aren't as described by the company that is leasing them. For people who are leasing a vehicle, this entails a full refund of any money that has been paid for the use of the vehicle minus any damage that has been incurred during the period of ownership.
In many ways, the Consumer Rights Act simply clarifies the pre-existing statutory rights that were available to lessees under previous legislation. However, the new right to reject is a clarification that could potentially be contentious for lessees and leaseholders. As a result it makes sense to be aware of your rights should there be anything that you find unsatisfactory about your vehicle.
The terms of your car lease should in no way infringe your statutory rights under the new act. It's also vitally important that any differences between the vehicle that is leased and its advertised description are made clear to the lessee and that these are built into the contract. If the car or van that you lease turns out to be different to the description that was given then you have rights to redress through the new Act.
In general, if you receive your new lease car and it turns out to be defective or different from how it was described when you agreed to lease it, then you can immediately choose to reject the contract and receive a refund. This is most easily achieved if the fault is reported within thirty days and it can be proved that it was present at the time of delivery. It should be noted that the entitlement is not necessarily to a full refund, but to a refund of the money paid to lease the car minus a reasonable charge for depreciation.
Alternatively, you can choose to have the vehicle repaired or replaced if the criteria above are met. This option is also available if the fault is reported within six months, or the fault is simply presumed to have been present on delivery but its presence cannot be absolutely proven. If the repair or replacement does not resolve the issue then the lessee has the right to reject the contract and receive a refund or else choose to continue with a reduced monthly fee.
The thirty day rejection period cannot be denied to a consumer. Within this period, it is up to the consumer whether she chooses to reject the vehicle or have it repaired or replaced. If the decision is to have it repaired or replaced, then the right to reject is paused until the repaired vehicle or replacement is returned.
After six months, customers have the right to bring a claim if they report the issue within six years (five in Scotland) and can prove that the fault was present at the time of delivery. They then have a right to repair or replacement. If that isn't possible then they can choose between a refund minus a deduction for use or a price reduction if they want to continue leasing the vehicle.
The burden of proof will lie with the consumer for the first thirty days. After this period and up to the end of the first six months of ownership, it will be up to the trader to prove that the fault was not present in the vehicle on delivery. The burden of proof then reverts to the consumer for the remaining five or six years.
If there is insufficient evidence that the fault was present at the time of delivery then the lessee will be responsible for its rectification. It makes sense to look over the vehicle thoroughly prior to handing it back to the lease company.
When determining whether a vehicle is of satisfactory quality, the factors that should be employed include its description, price and relevant circumstances. The safety of the vehicle, its durability and its appearance are all relevant factors, as is the presence of minor defects on the vehicle. Whether or not the vehicle is fit for the purpose is also important and is determined by reference to the purpose that the consumer specifies prior to signing the contract.
Of particular relevance to the motor trade is the requirement that the vehicle supplied should match the model that was shown to the customer when the contract was sold. Often customers will be shown an example of the make and model of vehicle that they are interested in leasing before being supplied with a vehicle or vehicles of the same type. If a vehicle supplied does not match the model in any of the aspects listed above, without the customer having been made aware that this would be the case prior to signing the contract, then the customer will have a right to redress.
If a customer chooses to take a refund for a vehicle that is faulty or not fit for purpose then the trader has a responsibility to transfer the money within 14 days. Traders are not allowed to impose fees for making refunds. The refund should also be made using the same method of payment that the customer employed, unless the customer agrees to a different arrangement.
If the trader disputes the basis for a claim then it is possible to resolve this by recourse to the Small Claims Court or, more cost effectively, by taking advantage of an Alternative Dispute Resolution service. The Citizens' Advice Bureau can advise about the existence of approved ADR services in your area.