What are the rights of a consumer in the UK?

3 Oct 2023

Know your rights as a consumer before you invest in your next project.

We’ve all heard of ‘cowboy builders’ and rogue traders, maybe we’ve even been victim to them, so as consumers it is important that we know our rights.

Understanding our consumer rights ensures we receive fair treatment, quality services, and protection against unfair practices.

What is the Consumer Rights Act 2015?

The Consumer Rights Act is an act of parliament that sets out a framework that consolidates in one place key consumer rights covering contracts for goods, services, digital content and the law relating to unfair terms in consumer contracts.

Within the act these are the key things consumers should know:

Right to Information and Transparency

Consumers have the right to clear and accurate information about the services offered, including terms and conditions and prices.

Right to Cancellation

Consumers have a cooling off period (a minimum of 14 days) during which they can change their mind without providing a reason. Please note there are exceptions to this, for example if you agree for the work to begin within the cooling off period.

Right to Quality Service

Consumers have the right to expect that services provided will be;

  • Of satisfactory quality

  • Fit for purpose

  • Carried out with reasonable care and skill

Service providers are responsible for correcting any problems or defects in their work at no extra cost to the consumer.

Right to Redress

If services are not provided to a satisfactory standard, consumers have the right to request that the service provider rectifies the issue or compensates them for any losses incurred as a result.

Right to Fair Pricing

Service providers must provide a clear breakdown of costs, including labour, materials and VAT.

Right to Timely Completion

Service providers must complete the work within a reasonable timeframe as agreed with the consumer. Delays should be communicated and explained. Consumers have the right to terminate the contract if unreasonable delays occur.

Right to Compensation for Damages:

If a consumer incurs financial losses due to poor service, they have the right to seek compensation from the service provider. Consumers can take legal action or seek mediation if necessary.

Right to Legal Recourse

If a dispute cannot be resolved amicably, consumers have the right to take legal action through the courts or alternative dispute resolution methods.

Further Questions:

Can I refuse to Pay?

In short, no. If you do not pay the tradesperson has the right to remove what they have done and take you to court.

How long are tradespeople liable for work?

Tradespeople are liable for work they do for 6 years from completion. During this time it is the tradesperson’s responsibility for rectifying any defects that may arise due to poor workmanship or other issues related to the construction work.

How long do I have to pursue a legal case?

The ‘limitation’ for a tradesperson being in breach of contract is 6 years.

How much will it cost me to take a tradesperson to court?

Small claims court fees vary depending on how much you are claiming for. If you win your case you will get these fees back.

Claim Amount


Up to £300


£300.01 to £500


£500.01 to £1000


£1000.01 to £1500


£1500.01 to £3000


£3000.01 to £5000


£5000.01 - £10,000


£10,000.01 to £200,000

5% of the claim

More than £200,000


What evidence do I need?

Any evidence you have will help. Keep all documents such as quotations and invoices. Bank statements can be used as proof of payment. Keep all copies of communication and get anything important in writing. Photographic evidence will be really useful, as will any documents from professionals such as building surveyors. It might also be useful to keep a timeline of events.

Minimising the risk

For every bad tradesperson out there, there are countless good ones. A good tradesperson will know your rights as well as you do and will do everything they can to provide a great service.

Many tradespeople are reliant on word of mouth for business, so ensuring their customers get the best is at the heart of what they do.

Use an Accredited Tradesperson

As a consumer you can protect yourself by using accredited builders. The CPA are the most widely recognised consumer protection organisation in the home improvements industry. The CPA vets all traders on an ongoing basis so any customer using a CPA registered tradesperson has peace of mind that they are using a reputable and trustworthy business.

Look for Insurance Backed Guarantees

The CPA offers Insurance backed guarantees to their registered trader, so as a consumer you can be sure that even if the tradesmen were to cease trading, the work they did for you would still be guaranteed.

Get a Deposit Protection Schemes

Deposit protection schemes are another way to protect your money against businesses going bust when you have paid a deposit. You can get yours through the CPA.


Not all tradespeople are bad, and in most cases everything will go smoothly. But it is important to protect your home and your money with any work being carried out, and knowing your consumer rights will help you with any work you have done to your home.

Useful Resources:

Citizens Advice

Consumer Rights Act

Small Claims Court

Building Regulations