I watched an interesting little piece on CTV’s W5 last night that dealt with several Ontario homeowners’ difficulties surrounding the heating systems installed in their new homes and their frustration in dealing with Tarion. Click here for a link to the online article on the same piece.
Tarion provides and administers Ontario’s mandatory new home warranty program under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act (“ONHWPA”) and its regulations. Based on the W5 story and others I’ve seen, Tarion still seems to be really struggling with the concept that the ONHWPA is consumer protection legislation and that, as such, protecting homeowners is Tarion’s primary (if not sole) mandate. There have been at least a couple of cases decided by the Ontario Courts where the Court has expressly stated that the ONHWPA is consumer protection legislation and yet the piece on W5 is just the most recent of many, many stories and articles in the media telling a very similar story. The message – even when delivered by the Courts – just doesn’t seem to be getting through.
I’m skeptical by nature and, a few years ago, I might have chalked these media stories about problems with Tarion up to whiny homeowners and/or overzealous reporters. However, as the purchaser of two (consecutive) new homes in the last four years, I’ve had the personal displeasure of tangling with Tarion not once, but twice. I won’t bore you with the details but I will tell you that, with both houses, I had several substantial and legitimate deficiencies that Tarion deemed “Not Warranted”. If you’ve ever received a Warranty Assessment Report from Tarion, you will be entirely too familiar with these two words. I’ve been litigating construction deficiency claims for more than a decade and I have a pretty good sense for what should be covered by a warranty and what probably isn’t. Tarion knew I was a construction lawyer and I was still treated by Tarion as though I had no idea what I was talking about and would just placidly accept its patently wrong decisions. It was a real eye-opener and I remember feeling extremely sympathetic to folks that are trying in vain to get help from Tarion and don’t have the skills or resources to take Tarion to task when it determines some of their very legitimate complaints to be “Not Warranted”.
Seeing this W5 story has renewed my interest in trying to help to educate homeowners and I will, in the near future, post some information here that Ontario homeowners dealing with Tarion might find helpful.