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Burzichelli Bill Prohibiting Rental of Motor Vehicles Subject to Safety Recalls Advances

(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 released earlier this week from the Assembly Consumer Affairs Committee, by a vote of 4 to 1.

“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 state and federal law does not require rental car companies to remove vehicles with a safety recall from their active fleets until repairs are made. Likewise, rental car companies are not currently required to repair safety recalls prior to putting a car from a rental fleet up for sale to the public.

Burzichelli’s bill (A-3187), 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 knowingly rent, lease or sell motor vehicles that are subject to a safety recall, without first repairing the problem.

Under the bill, if, during the rental or lease period 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.

Violators would be subject to penalties of up to $10,000 for a first offense and up to $20,000 for second and subsequent offenses.

“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.”

The bill now heads to the Assembly Speaker, who decides if and when to post it for a floor vote.