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Burzichelli Bill Prohibiting Rental and Sale of Motor Vehicles Subject to Safety Recalls Advances in the Assembly

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli sponsored to make it illegal for rental companies to rent, lease or sell unrepaired motor vehicles that are subject to safety recall was recently approved by an Assembly panel.

“Consumers have certain expectations when they rent a car – that it’s safe and in good operating condition,” said Burzichelli (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Unfortunately, since rental companies aren’t required to pull recalled cars from their active fleets until the vehicles are fixed, consumers can instead be unwittingly subjected to a dangerous game of rental car Russian roulette.”

Current federal law prohibits car dealers from both selling and leasing vehicles subject to a recall unless and until they are repaired.

Burzichelli’s bill (A-1892), entitled the “Safe Motor Vehicle Rental Act,” would make it a violation of New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act for rental companies in the state to rent, lease or sell motor vehicles that are subject to a known safety recall, without first repairing the problem.

Under the bill, if, during the rental of a vehicle, a rental company receives notification that the vehicle has become subject to a safety recall, the company would be required to immediately contact the renter or lessee, inform them of recall notice and offer to provide the individual with a comparable replacement vehicle at no extra charge.

The bill also addresses the sale or lease of a vehicle from a rental company. The bill stipulates that it is an unlawful practice under the consumer fraud act for a rental company to sell at retail or lease a motor vehicle that contains a defect related to motor vehicle safety if, prior to final sale or during the lease period of the motor vehicle, the rental company learns of a safety recall and fails to immediately inform the purchaser or lessee.

“It’s ludicrous that an individual could currently rent or buy a car that is patently unsafe to drive without knowing it,” said Burzichelli. “Car rental companies are supposed to be responsible for maintaining their fleets and closing this glaring loophole will ensure that they do just that.”

Violators of the consumer fraud act are subject to penalties of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for second and subsequent offenses.

The measure was released by the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee on October 23.