Royal Adelaide Show 2018 – CBS compliance activity

CBS inspectors and compliance officers attended the Royal Adelaide Show 2018 (‘the show’) checking traders and products and ensuring compliance in the following areas:

Product safety

Product safety officers from CBS have inspected more than 1500 individual items in almost 400 showbags. Only a few issues have been identified with items this year, compared with previous years. A couple of items with safety concerns were removed from showbags before the show started, due to safety concerns.

Liquor licensing

Inspectors attended the show checking vendors and bars were displaying correct signage, licences were displayed and persons in charge were on duty. CBS officers took the opportunity to educate and remind businesses of their obligations in relation to responsible service of alcohol, provision of free water, and rules around serving alcohol to minors and intoxicated persons.

There were a large number of liquor outlets operating at the show this year, using limited licences and ongoing special circumstance licences. Overall, the level of compliance with SA liquor laws was pleasing and the attendance of CBS inspectors was welcomed.

Building products and services

Stall holders selling home improvement products and services were also visited to make sure they were appropriately licensed and also displayed their licence details, as required under occupational licensing laws.

CBS staff were also looking for compliance with the ACL, in particular unsolicited consumer agreements – where the seller approaches a customer to sell a product or service. In these cases, the consumer may be entitled to a cooling off period, in the same way if there is an unsolicited approach at home e.g. door to door selling or telemarketing.

Anyone wishing to raise any safety or compliance concerns should contact CBS on 131 882.


Housing SA – changes to property owners declaration form and tenancy reviews

Property Owners Declaration Form (EPOD)

Housing SA is introducing an on-line property owners declaration form to assist agents and landlords with providing the information needed to issue bond and rent assistance for Housing SA customers. The EPOD will be available later this month via sa.gov.au.

Tenancy Reviews

Housing SA periodically needs to confirm the status of a private rental tenancy to determine if the tenant is still living in the property and the bond should remain lodged. To assist with the process Housing SA is introducing on-line tenancy reviews. This will replace the current paper based process. For tenancies requiring confirmation, emails will be sent to agents and landlords on Monday mornings asking them to advise of a vacancy date or a new end of tenancy date if the tenant is continuing in the property. More information on the tenancy review process is available on sa.gov.au.


Residential Bonds Online improvements

Consumer and Business Services is making changes to the Residential Bonds Online (RBO) system to increase digital services and improve the look and feel of email communications.

Improvements include:
• notice of claim letters to be sent by email where an email address is available
• a significantly improved and reformatted silent tenant claim form, making it much easier for agents/landlords to use
• rewritten and formatted email correspondence to improve readability
• increased notification to tenants/agents

The improvements are now live as CBS continue to improve residential bonds communications.

Register for RBO to lodge, check and refund a bond.


Photographing a tenants belongings

Landlords, agents and property managers are able to enter a rented property for routine inspections and to show the property to prospective tenants and buyers. There are rules around how and when this can happen.

Understandably, some tenants may become concerned when their landlord or agent takes photographs of their personal possessions at an inspection or when marketing a property for sale. Photo’s are often a great way to record the state of a property as a digital image can prove to be great evidence if there is a dispute. However, a tenant’s privacy should be considered and the matter should be discussed before taking photos.

Issues of privacy may be covered by the Privacy Act 1988, particularly if an agent is managing the property. The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner has some information available that should be considered.

A landlord must respect a tenants right to quiet enjoyment of the property. It isn’t often that photos disrupt a tenant’s right however, discussion about the purpose of taking photos and how they will be used is important.

Tenants should be able to leave personal items out during a routine inspection. If there is an agreement to photograph the property, a tenant may like to consider removing personal items such as photographs, awards, furniture and other personal possessions.

If photos are being taken for the purpose of selling a property, while tenanted, an agreement should be reached on what photos should be taken. More information is available at sa.gov.au about this matter.

Contact Consumer and Business Services on 131 882 if you have any queries.


Spend A Penny – undertaking

John Farrugia, Mary Farrugia, Rosemarie Farrugia and David Farrugia trading as Spend A Penny have acknowledged that they breached section 106 and 136 of the Australian Consumer Law by supplying, offering for supply, manufacturing, possessing, or having control of consumer goods that do not comply with an applicable safety and information standard.

The partnership gave undertakings to the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs to rectify the breaches.

Signed undertaking (PDF 374KB)


Gym membership contracts

The Health and Fitness Industry Code protects consumers by making sure particular information is included in contracts. Details about the type and length of contract and the total cost must be included. Importantly, you should also be given warnings to cancel direct debits when your contract ends. Making sure these protections are in contracts were targeted in a recent audit of gyms by Consumer and Business Services (CBS) officers.

This educational based operation saw almost 20 independent and smaller gyms visited. CBS staff viewed current contracts and provided feedback about changes that would need to be made to be compliant with the code. Gyms were given a copy of the code for their reference. More gyms will be visited shortly to finalise this audit.

Gym membership agreements can end up costing consumers dearly if a gym closes down. The Health and Fitness Industry Code minimises potential losses by making contracts transparent and limits the length of an agreement to 12 months. Check your contract to make sure it includes information about when the contract will end, how much it’ll cost and how to cancel any direct debits.

 


Building site audits

More than 100 licences were checked at three construction sites around Adelaide recently. CBS investigators will further investigate potential breaches identified and take further action where appropriate. Officers also provided advice about CBS’ role and licensing laws under the Building Work Contractors Act 1995 and the Plumbing Gas Fitters and Electricians Act 1995.

Consumer and Business Services (CBS) has recently released the Compliance and Enforcement Policy 2018-2019 which like previous policies, has a focus on the building industry. As a result, CBS officers complete monthly inspections of building sites and carries out on-site audits with the Office of the Technical Regulator.

CBS will continue to monitor the building industry as a key priority area and will focus on:

  • individuals or companies performing unlicensed building work, including operating outside of licence conditions with particular attention on commercial, industrial and residential projects, including homebuilding, renovation and landscaping services requiring licensed building work
  • individuals or building work contractors who fail to take out building indemnity insurance when carrying out building work costing $12,000 or more that requires council approval
  • individuals or companies who take an excessive deposit from consumers
  • builders who take payment from consumers but do not complete the work

Report an individual tradie or business who you know is operating without a licence or outside of their licence conditions.


Gift cards – proposed changes

The Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2018 was introduced into Parliament on 16 May 2018 and aims to make gift cards more consumer friendly by providing greater flexibility and certainty for consumers who are often confused by varying rules in relation to gift card expiry dates.

The Bill reduces the detriment caused to consumers when they are forced to redeem gift cards and make purchases that they otherwise might not, simply because of a looming expiry date. It also reduces the financial loss experienced by consumers who do not redeem their gift cards at all, simply because they have been unable to find something that they wish to purchase within the period of time that the gift card is valid.

The Bill eases the pressure placed on consumers by increasing the period of time in which they have to redeem their vouchers, ensuring that they get what they’ve paid for and are more likely to make purchases that they can benefit from.

Gift cards sold in South Australia (SA) will be required to have a minimum expiry period of 3 years. However, the requirements will not apply to gift cards purchased online or over the phone where the gift card is to be delivered to the consumer at an address outside of SA or where the contact details of the consumer provided in connection with the sale of the gift card includes a residential address outside of SA.

Targeted consultation will be undertaken to prescribe categories of gift cards that will be exempt from the new provisions, for example, temporary marketing promotions or vouchers supplied for charitable purposes.

The Fair Trading (Gift Cards) Amendment Bill 2018 is available at www.legislation.sa.gov.au

 


Unlicensed real estate agent agrees to additional training – assurance

A real estate agent who allegedly acted as a sales representative for a land agent while unlicensed has agreed to commence further training as part of an enforceable undertaking he has entered into with South Australia’s consumer watchdog.

Marc Olsen’s sales representative licence was cancelled in February 2017, after he failed to renew it.

An investigation by Consumer and Business Services revealed he was allegedly still entering into sales agency agreements with vendors on behalf of another land agent.

Following that investigation, Mr Olsen entered into an enforceable undertaking with the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, agreeing to cease acting as a sales representative without a current licence and undertake three units that form part of the Certificate IV in Property Services within 12 months of entering into the undertaking.

Consumer and Business Services may use written undertakings in place of court-based enforcement action.

This does not rule out further action, such as prosecution, if the terms of the agreement are not met.

Signed assurance (PDF 109KB)


CBS – educating local hairdressers and barbers

Consumer and Business Services officers were recently visiting salons talking with hairdressers and barbers about the qualifications needed to work in South Australia.

“Our goal this time was to raise awareness and make sure business owners and staff both know what qualifications are needed to work in South Australia.”

CBS officers randomly chose hairdressing and barber businesses in metropolitan Adelaide. They talked with the business owners about the need to check qualifications when hiring and to make sure their own qualifications were valid.

“The response was really positive” said compliance officers. “People were working and busy, so most of the time it was a quick visit and stayed only if people had questions.”

Officers were asked about overseas qualifications and the need for them to be recognised in South Australia. Other topics included the business owner’s responsibility to check staff qualifications before hiring and some general questions about complying with the law.

Officers noted a high level of compliance among South Australian hairdressers and barbers. “There seemed to be a lot of pride in having and improving professional skills. This showed in the types of questions people asked and the information we were able to share,” said compliance officer Naomi Janes

CBS will continue to work with the hairdressing industry. We share the industry’s focus on professional, skilled people so consumers can expect not only a high level of service but a high level of skills when visiting South Australian businesses.

If someone was not appropriately qualified, we would apply a risk based regulatory approach looking at level of penalty, duration of conduct and repeat offenders, consumer detriment v’s industry detriment, public interest and level of profit from the conduct etc.

In South Australia, hairdressers and barbers must be qualified. Employers also have a responsibility to make sure their staff are qualified with a certificate III in hairdressing or barbering. Older or overseas qualifications and experience may also be recognised. Penalties apply to both employers and employees if hairdressing or barbering services are provided without qualifications.