Right to repair: What the new law means for you and your home
Jul 1, 2021
New right to repair laws designed to make it easier to fix your belongings at home – instead of buying new ones – came into force in the UK on July 1, 2021.
It could mean household appliances such as TVs, fridges and washing machines last up to ten years longer and be cheaper to run. The legislation was created to cut the 1.5 million tonnes of electrical goods thrown away by UK households each year.
What does the right to repair law do?
The new rules are aimed at premature obsolescence – the short lifespan of electrical appliances, which means products stop working and customers are forced to buy new ones – which drives up electrical waste and costs people large sums of money.
Manufacturers are now legally obliged to make spare parts for their products available to consumers and ensure items can be easily fixed using the basic tools most households are likely to have at home.
Only spare parts which can be used simply and safely – such as door hinges for washing machines and spare trays for fridges – will be made available to consumers, with more complicated or riskier repair jobs reserved for professionals.
This means that, even under the new law, the parts customers can buy themselves will be significantly limited.
The right to repair law applies to all appliances bought from July 1 but manufacturers have two years after a product becomes available to make spare parts available. To ensure consumers don’t lose out because a company discontinues something they own, the spare parts must remain available for up to 10 years after the product is taken off sale.
Which appliances are covered?
The legislation currently covers washing machines and washer-dryers, fridges, dishwashers, televisions and other types of electronic displays. What parts are you entitled to get hold of and which will still only be available for professional repairers? Find out here.
Ovens, tumble dryers, hobs, microwaves and personal tech such as smartphones and laptops are not included in the legislation.
What do the experts think?
Consumer rights organisation Which? wants people to have access to spare parts for as close to a product’s lifespan as possible. Many white goods can last up to 25 years, the watchdog said, meaning a ten-year minimum for manufacturers could still leave households without the parts they need to fix something at home.
The Restart Project, a repair initiative, is petitioning the government to introduce right to repair laws which go much further.
The savvy repairers want the new measures to make more spare parts available to consumers to purchase and not just professionals, to ensure people at home with the right skills and those who use repair cafes can still make use of the parts.
Smartphones and laptops must also be covered by the law, the organisation said, as they are under EU legislation, while the VAT on electrical repairs must be reduced to make it cheaper for everyone to get their products fixed.
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