Changes affecting service industries from 1 September 2012 - Legislation update

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31 July 2012
Legislation updates

Changes to uncollected goods requirements will affect accommodation providers and a wide range of service industries from 1 September 2012.

There will also be changes to accommodation providers’ liability if guests’ property is damaged or lost.

The changes under the Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012 cover:

Uncollected goods or vehicles

These are items that someone has left temporarily with a business, but:

  • has not returned to claim or collect
  • has not told the business what to do with
  • cannot be contacted about, or
  • has not paid the business any costs associated with keeping (also known as ‘the relevant charge’).

The new provisions will set different requirements for informing consumers and for disposing of:

  • low-value goods (less than $200)
  • low-value vehicles (less than $1000)
  • medium-value goods ($200-$4999)
  • high-value goods ($5000 or more)
  • high-value motor vehicles ($1000 or more)
  • perishable goods.

Situations that can result in uncollected goods or vehicles include:

  • A towing business picks up a damaged vehicle, but is not told by the owner what to do with it.
  • A motor mechanic is asked to repair a car, but the owner never returns to pick it up and pay for any work done.
  • Clothes are left for dry-cleaning but never collected.
  • A landlord of a shop is left with perishable food after the tenant leaves.
  • A guest fails to return to collect belongings left in a hotel ‘lost and found’.

We will soon publish more details about the uncollected goods requirements on this website.

Accommodation provider liability

Hotels and other accommodation providers will be able to limit their liability if guests’ property is damaged or lost, to:

  • $300 for each room provided for guests’ use on the day, unless the property was in a safe-keeping service (up from the previous limit of $100)
  • $3000 for each room, if the property was in a safe-keeping service (not a room safe) – up from $2000.

To limit liability, accommodation providers must comply with revised notice requirements. If they do not replace existing notices, they may be unable to do so.

Accommodation providers must:

  • ‘conspicuously’ display the notice at reception or the main entrance, and
  • either conspicuously display the notice in the guest’s room, or give it to guests and draw their attention to it – for example, including the wording on a check-in form.

Providers who want to limit their liability will have until 1 October 2012 to replace existing notices.

We have created a standard notice for businesses to use:

Providers can create their own notice but must use the exact words of the standard: