Consumer Protection

Consumer Protection: For Now, It Is Business As Usual At Tarion

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Consumer Protection: For Now, It Is Business As Usual At Tarion

You may have read the news reports: In late March, the Ontario government announced it intends to make substantial structural changes to Tarion by splitting it into two new Delegated Administrative Authorities (DAA).

One will continue with Tarion’s current warranty provider mandate, and the other will continue with Tarion’s current building regulator mandate.

The news received some attention in the media, and not surprisingly, Tarion staff began to receive enquiries from both new condominium owners and builders. They wanted to know how the changes will affect them — and rightly so.

Tarion not only regulates the building industry, it also administers the new home warranty, an important consumer protection program that comes with rights and responsibilities for both the condo owner and the builder.

I would like to assure you that for now, it is business as usual at Tarion. The government’s plans will significantly affect how Tarion operates in the future. However, given the scope of the changes, I expect it will likely take some time before they come into effect.

So, for now, new condo owners and builders should contact Tarion as usual for any help they need on warranty questions and issues. Our award-winning customer service staff remain ready to provide information, resources and answers to condo owners and builders alike on the province’s new home warranty — something we’ve been doing for more than 40 years.

It’s worth mentioning that since our start in 1976, Tarion has worked to protect new home and condo owners by anticipating and responding to changing markets and consumer needs.

Raising the bar for builders — which ultimately benefits consumers — has been the focus of many of our initiatives and improvements over the years. A recent example of this is new education requirements that came into effect in 2016, improving qualification standards for new builders entering the industry.

Our warranty program has also been significantly enhanced over the years.

Warranty coverage limits were increased to reflect the rising costs of condos and repairs. And, the program provides coverage that no other warranty in Canada offers: the seven-year warranty covers illegally built homes, and we were the first and only province to provide coverage for radon gas remediation and for delayed closings.

Meanwhile, our staff has won international awards for customer service. This is not a surprise to us: every year we send out annual surveys to new home and condo owners and builders to help assess our customer service performance, and Tarion consistently scores above an 80-per-cent approval rating.

Given that we help administer the warranty to more than 350,000 condominiums and homes and regulate more than 5,000 builders, I believe that rating is a strong indication of our dedication to customer service and consumer protection.

One issue we have been working on is reviewing deposit protection coverage for buyers of new homes.

Purchasers of new condominiums enjoy strong protection under the trust provisions of the Condominium Act which require that deposits and monies for upgrades and extras are held in trust. Purchasers of freehold homes do not have the same protections.

We are therefore pleased that the Ontario government has said it wants to work with Tarion to review deposit protection coverage limits in the coming weeks and months.

Other changes the government is planning may take time to put in place. So for the time being, new condo owners and builders should take comfort that it is business as usual at Tarion, as our staff remain committed to delivering their award-winning service.

HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders. Tarion.com

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