Right to repair rules come into force

1 July 2021   By Dr Lucy Brown, Editor

Legislation requiring manufacturers to make spare parts available for electrical appliances have come into force.

From 1 July 2021 manufacturers are legally obliged to make spare parts available to help prolong the life of home appliances.

This is designed to combat the problem of built-in obsolescence where appliances wear out and there is little hope of repairing them.

Only replacement parts for simple repairs will be supplied direct to customers while more complex parts will be available exclusively to professional repairers.

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New legislation

The crux of this legislation, first confirmed back in March, is that customers should have the right to repair their home appliances rather than having to send their old appliance to landfill and buy another if something goes wrong.

So, manufacturers of appliances sold from 1 July 2021 will be legally required to make spare parts available to customers or professional repairers to help them prolong the life of their home appliances.

While straightforward replacements such as dishwasher inserts or door hinges for washing machines will be available to customers directly, anything more complicated such as motors or heating elements will only be available to professional repairers to ensure safety.

It's important to note these regulations only apply to products bought on or after 1 July 2021, so customers with existing appliances won't be covered.

Extending product life

It has long been argued that built-in obsolescence could be forcing customers to replace appliances sooner than they would like to.

The idea that manufacturers would rather we buy a new appliance in a few years rather than repair the one we've already got makes sense on a commercial level, but it isn't in keeping with the desire to lower emissions and protect the environment.

Last year, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) called for the Government to enshrine a right to repair in law along with a raft of other measures that haven't yet been taken forward.

They cited estimates from the United Nations' Global E-waste Monitor which suggested each person in the UK generates 23.9kg of e-waste, far higher than the global average of 7.3kg per person.

The UK is also said to be much worse than our European neighbours for throwing waste electricals into household rubbish bins rather than sending it for recycling.


While the new legislation has been welcomed by many as a first step, it has also been criticised for not going far enough.

The fact that more complex parts are only available to professional repairers rather than customers themselves is a bugbear for some, although it can be seen as a safety issue as much as anything else.

There have also been complaints about affordability, with no guarantees that parts must be made affordable by manufacturers. Critics say this could still price people out of repairing their old appliances, especially when repair costs are also added in.

If a product is still under warranty, it will be down to the manufacturer to repair it, but repair costs outside of the warranty period can spiral. Read more about your rights when it comes to faulty products.

Meanwhile, it's still unclear whether customers will take advantage of the new legislation and opt to repair their appliance if it breaks down instead of simply replacing it.

It requires a shift away from the mentality that something is broken so we'll just buy a new one, and this isn't just a consumer mindset but one that is fuelled by advertising and company profit margins.

In the years ahead, we'll see whether the legislation works as anticipated or whether it's a sticking plaster that refuses to stick.

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