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Clear that Clutter! Garage Sale Liability.

Garage Sale Summer is garage sale time. Not so fast. Before you place items out for sale or list them on Kijiji there are steps you must take to ensure that selling items you no longer need does not end up being the basis for a law suit against you.

The burden is on you, as the seller, to ensure that anything you sell meets current Canadian Safety Standards. This includes making sure items you sell have not been recalled or are banned for sale in Canada.

If you sell items that have been recalled or do not meet current safety standards you could be liable as a vendor should the item cause harm to the buyer. You can check your items by searching the product recall listing published by Heath Canada.

There are items which may be in your home that you wish to sell that have been banned for sale in Canada since you purchased them. The list includes items such as:

  • Baby walkers
  • Self-feeding devises for infants
  • Lawn darts with sharp tips
  • Plastic baby bottles containing BPA (bisphenol A)
  • Anything made with jequirity beans, also known as rosary peas, paternoster peas or love peas
  • Kites that pose a danger of conducting electricity
  • Items of clothing treated with the flame retardant, tris (2,3 dibromopropyl) phosphate

If you were thinking of selling any of these items, don’t. If the item can be disassembled, please do so. Dispose of them immediately. Check here for a complete list of items banned for sale in Canada. Disobeying the Heath Canada directive could result in criminal charges.

Next comes the “be careful” part of the equation. The Canadian Safety Standards Protection Act requires that all items sold must come with safety labels. This means that if the item does not have the original use safety labels and instructions, you should not sell the product. This includes items like window blinds, child safety gates and baby strollers.

Cribs and baby cots older than ten years should be checked to see if they meet current safety standards. Crib safety standards have been evolving over the last three decades and what was good for your children may no longer meet the legal requirements. Likewise, playpens have many more regulations that just a few years ago.

Car seats are another item that could open you up to personal liability. The rules and regulations about car seats in Canada are staggering. Understandably so. If someone’s baby is hurt because of an issue with the car seat they will be quick to name both the manufacturer and the seller in a personal injury law suit. If you sell a used car seat without ensuring that all safety and installation instructions are included with the sale, this could be you.

A car seat that no longer contains a label with its “best by” date or is beyond the manufacturers recommended lifespan should be immediately discarded from re-sale consideration. If it does not contain a National Safety Mark, it should be discarded. If it has been in a car accident it should be discarded. If you cannot provide the original warnings, guidelines for use, installation instructions and date of manufacture, it should be discarded. If the car seat you have is still in contention for resale, next you need to ensure that it meets current Transport Canada regulations.

Hockey helmets (and face protectors) must have a sticker indicating it meets Canadian Safety Standard approval with a Safety Standard number. You must not sell helmet older than five years or if it has been involved in a major impact. If you are not certain about the condition, better to discard the helmet than risk opening yourself up to the liability of any injury resulting from a lack of protection provided by a damaged helmet. Other hockey and sporting equipment should be checked for condition and only sold if not damaged.

The current regulations have changed garage and yard sales from a fun way to spend a weekend to the possibility that unless you are vigilant you could risk so much more than any possible profit from the sale of used items. No longer in Canada is it buyer beware. Now it has become seller beware as well.

If you are facing a product liability claim because of a used product you sold, contact us for a free consultation.