The statement of rights and responsibilities is an important document under consumer lease that you as a lessee, should be familiar with.
This statement merely reiterates the matters stated in the lease documents — the contract – and reminds you – lessee – of your responsibilities.
It consists mainly of frequently asked questions relating to consumer leases. Below are the frequently asked questions with answers that you may be looking for.
n How can I get details of my lease?
Your lessor must give you a copy of your consumer lease with this statement of rights and responsibilities. Both documents must be given within 14 days of signing the lease. If you want another copy of the lease, you may write to the lessor and ask for it. Your lessor must give you a copy and may charge a fee.
n What should my lease tell me?
Your lease should tell you about your obligations and other relevant information for example details of goods, amount to be paid before goods are delivered, stamp duty, other charges, amount of rental payments, number of rental payments, when the lease can be ended and obligations when your lease ends. You should always read your lease carefully before signing.
n Can I end my lease early?
Yes. You need to simply return the goods to your lessor. The goods may be returned during ordinary business hours or any other time you and the lessor agree on or the court decides shall you and the lessor fail to come to a mutual agreement.
n What will I have to pay if I end my lease early?
The amount the lease says you have to pay. It comes back to what your contract requires you to pay. It can be a small or a significant amount.
n Can my lease be changed by my lessor?
Yes, but only if your lease allows for the changes. Your lessor cannot change his or her mind later if your contract permits otherwise.
n Is there anything I can do if I think that my lease is unjust?
Yes. You can apply to the court, contact Consumer Council of Fiji or get legal advice on how to go about this. There are avenues available that can look into this and possibly provide you with the relief you are in need of.
n If my lessor writes asking me where the goods are, do I have to say where they are?
Yes. You must do this within seven days. If you do not have the goods you must give your lessor all the information you have so the goods can be traced. You must not forget that you have only leased the good and do not own it.
n When can my lessor or its agent come into a residence to take possession of goods?
Your lessor can only do so if it has the court's approval or the written consent from you which is given after you have been informed in writing of the relevant section in the Consumer Credit Act.
n What do I do if I cannot make a rental payment?
Get in touch with your lessor immediately. Discuss the matter and see if you can come to some arrangement.
n What if my lessor and I cannot agree on a suitable arrangement?
You can apply to the court, contact Consumer Council of Fiji or get legal advice on how to go about this.
n Can my lessor take action against me?
Yes, if you are in default under your lease. But the law says that you cannot be unduly harassed or threatened for rental payments. If you think you are being unduly harassed or threatened, you can contact Consumer Council of Fiji or get legal advice.
n Do I have any other rights and obligations?
Yes. The law will give you other rights and obligations. Once again you must read your lease carefully to understand these rights and responsibilities.
We will talk more on your rights under hardship and repossession of goods next week.
In the event of a dispute, the only rights you seem to have are to apply to the court, contact Consumer Council of Fiji or get legal advice, all of which might involve time and costs that an average consumer might not be able to afford. You must, therefore, study the lease documents carefully to make sure exactly what you are getting into. You must take the time to explore all their purchasing options first before committing to consumer lease. Knowing and understanding your rights and obligations under the consumer lease is your responsibility.
n This is a weekly contribution from the council.