Consumer Protection: More Proection Coming To Ontario Condominium Buyers
I am pleased to announce that more protection is coming to Ontario’s condominium buyers.
Tarion has been working with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to extend warranty coverage to certain condominium conversions that are proposed to take effect in January, 2018. This addition to the warranty is an important part of updating the overall protections for new home buyers as the housing market continues to change and evolve.
Converting older buildings into new condos has been occurring not only in Ontario and across the country, but around the world. As availability of land becomes progressively scarce, existing buildings – such as factories and churches – have become attractive development opportunities. Developers keep many of the beautiful and historic architectural features of these older structures intact, while renovating the interior and bringing them up to date with today’s building code. Buyers get to enjoy living in a repurposed space with a modern twist.
Today, condominium conversions are not included under Ontario’s new home warranty. But that is about to change. Tarion is currently consulting with the public as we work on implementing a warranty that protects consumers should their builder not fix certain defects in their newly converted condominiums. While some aspects of the warranty may differ from the current new condo warranty in Ontario, it will still be a robust and comprehensive warranty with consumer protection at its core.
This new warranty protection would apply only to condos that are being converted from non-residential buildings. This means that former factories, churches, or anything previously used for commercial or non-residential purposes may be eligible for coverage. Rental apartment buildings that are converted into condos would not be covered. This means that the stock of rental apartments will not be reduced, which is particularly important for urban centres experiencing a shortage in rental units.
The proposed warranty is proposed to be comparable to the existing new condo warranty. Buyers would benefit from deposit protection and delay compensation and any new elements would have the same first-year warranty that exists today on new condos. Preexisting elements would also have to comply with the Ontario Building Code and be fit for habitation. Both new and pre-existing elements would be covered in the two-year warranties for water penetration and defects in electrical, plumbing and heating delivery and distribution systems, and the seven-year warranty for major structural defects.
There is one exception to this warranty: it would not cover first year workmanship and materials for pre-existing elements since older elements cannot be expected to have the same look, feel and performance as new elements.
Another important way we are strengthening consumer protection is the proposed requirement for builders of condominium conversions to be registered with Tarion before they start a conversion project. This means builders would be evaluated by Tarion to make sure they are competent and have the financial resources needed to undertake these projects.
Earlier this year, Tarion consulted with the public on the development of these new regulations. We are now accepting submissions in response to the draft regulations and new rules. Visit Tarion.com to find out how you can have your say – the deadline to submit your thoughts is September 11, 2017.
And if you plan to purchase a converted condominium in 2018, be sure to check if it is covered under the warranty. Take some time to understand what is covered, when you need to fill out your warranty forms, and how the warranty process works at Tarion.com.
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.