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October 2015…the Month of Change

The first of October was a big day for the UK, as it witnessed four new important laws being enforced. These laws cover a range of issues including retail, property and driving.

No, this article is not another reminder about the clocks going back in a few weeks time. It is however, discussing the new laws that were enforced a few days ago.

The first of October was a big day for the UK, as it witnessed four new important laws being enforced. These laws cover a range of issues including retail, property and driving. It is important to understand these new laws and legislations to avoid receiving any fines in the future. Below you can find each law fully explained, highlighting the reasons why they were implemented, and how they affect you.

Smoking Ban

As of October 1st, it is now illegal for people in England and Wales to smoke in a car carrying someone under the age of 18. This change will affect thousands of people’s daily routines, therefore it is essential to know the implications of this law to avoid being fined.

Key facts:

  • The law applies to every driver in England and Wales;
  • The rule is applied to both drivers and passengers;
  • If caught smoking in the presence of a minor, a £50 fine will be issued;
  • The law applies if you are driving with the window or sunroof open;
  • It applies if you are sat with the doorway open;
  • It does not apply to e-cigarettes;
  • It does not apply if you are driving a convertible with the roof completely down;
  • The law applies if you are 17 and driving with another underage passenger;
  • It does not apply if you are 17 and driving alone.

The motivation behind this is to protect children and young people from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Every time a child breathes in second-hand smoke, it puts them at risk of serious conditions including meningitis, cancer, bronchitis and pneumonia. It is particularly bad for a child suffering with asthma.

Check out the Department of Health’s informative video on the ban:

Consumer protection law

Good news for all shoppers, a new consumer protection measure has included a longer refund right under the Consumer Rights Act. The new consumer law means that anyone who purchases faulty goods from a UK-based retailer will be entitled to a full refund or exchange for up to 30 days from the purchase date.

Key facts:

  • The new Act states you are within your right to return a faulty item within 30 days of purchase whether it is bought in store or online;
  • The refunded money must be received within 14 days;
  • If the item is faulty beyond the 30 days you are entitled to a repair or replacement;
  • The retailer has one chance to repair the item, if it is still faulty it can be refunded;
  • It does not apply if you have just changed your mind on a product;
  • There is also a new protection for digital content, such as eBooks or music, e.g. If a download infects a computer with a virus or does not open;
  • The Act covers second-hand goods, if bought through a retailer;
  • Six months after the purchase date you still have the right to ask for a repair on a faulty item. However, the retailer has the right to deduct money for the use you have had out of the goods;
  • When returning a faulty item after six months it is advised to check the terms and conditions of the returns policy of the product, as it is subject to change depending on the value of the product;
  • People buying services, like a haircut, will also have stronger rights;
  • Service providers who do not carry out the work with reasonable care, as agreed with the consumer, will be obliged to put things right. Or give some money back;
  • Consumers will now be able to take their complaints to certified Alternative Dispute Resolution providers.

Before this update, there was no clear time limit to how long a consumer had to return a faulty item; it was described as a ‘reasonable length of time’. This gave retailers a stronger case when refusing to refund a faulty item. The consumer protection law will help consumers back up any disputes they may find themselves in when trying to return a faulty item in the future.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said “The new laws coming in today should make it easier for people to understand and use their rights, regardless of what goods or services they buy,”

Parking grace period

The British Parking Association (BPA) has updated their code of practice to bring private car parks in line with local authority car parks. Motorists are now given a 10-minute grace period after their parking ticket runs out before they can receive a fine in private car parks.

BPA chief executive, Patrick Troy, said: “We want to make it easier for motorists to park in whichever car park they use when they go about their daily business.”

“By making private car parks as similar to local authority ones as possible; life becomes much simpler for the motorist.”

Key facts:

  • The new code will give drivers a minimum of 10 minutes after their ticket expires before they can be hit with a fine;
  • The grace period will apply at the end of paid-for parking tickets or after the expiry of free parking tickets;
  • The code of practice is applied to thousands of private car parks across the country;
  • BPA updated their code of practice due to a scam which saw parking attendants cheat motorists out of money. The car park operator was disciplined after some employer’s doctored photographic evidence to unfairly impose parking charges; (Ref BBC)
  • Operators have been banned from offering financial incentives to attendants for the number of tickets they issue, to avoid any future scams;
  • In March this year, the government brought in measures to encourage people to use their cars in town centres, ensuring a 10-minute grace period in council-run car parks.

Smoke Alarms

Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis released a press release on October 1st regarding a new fire safety measure that will help save the lives of tenants by ensuring all rented property is equipped with a smoke alarm.

Key facts:

  • Landlords will be required by law to install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in their properties, under the new government measures coming into force;
  • Landlords who fail to install a smoke and carbon monoxide alarm in their properties could face up to a £5,000 civil penalty;
  • It is estimated that this could prevent more than 25 deaths and almost 700 injuries a year;
  • The law will require landlords to install smoke alarms on every floor of their property;
  • Carbon monoxide alarms need to be installed in rooms where there are solid fuel burning appliances;
  • The alarms need to be checked to make sure they are in working order at the start of each new tenancy;
  • The laws are part of wider government moves to ensure there are sufficient measures in place to protect tenants.

Housing Minister, Brandon Lewis said, “These changes will help save lives by ensuring all landlords install alarms in their properties, giving tenants the vital seconds they need to escape.”

We hope this information has cleared up any questions you may have had on the new laws implemented on October 1st.  Any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us on 01792 468684.

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