Consumer Protection: Deal With Disputes With Early Intervention
Tarion offers EI if communication between the builder and the homeowner has broken down
You’ve moved into a newly built home and are thrilled with your investment. But, several months in, you notice you have a leaky window.
You contact your builder, but they don’t seem interested in fixing the problem, or they tell you the leak is your fault. Understandably you are upset and your relationship with your builder begins to deteriorate.
What can you do?
When warranty disputes arise between homeowners and builders, Tarion has tools to resolve them before they escalate. One of them is what we call Early Intervention (EI). Here’s how it works.
Tarion usually offers an EI if communication between the builder and the homeowner has broken down, or if there is a concern that one of the two parties are not acting in good faith (e.g. the homeowner or builder feels threatened or intimidated, or there’s a denial of access, etc.).
Either party can request an EI. Once Tarion staff has heard both sides, they will decide if EI is a good option. No form is required and EI can happen either during the builder repair period or, in some cases, before a warranty form is even submitted.
EI is intended to help both parties work together – whether it’s in reestablishing communication or in resolving items reported on a warranty form to avoid conciliation.
A second way we can resolve disputes is mediation.
This is where Tarion acts as a neutral third party to help resolve the issues creating the conflict. A mediator cannot take sides or give an opinion as to what the parties should or should not agree to. The focus of the mediation is to help the parties find a resolution that they can both live with.
There are three points during our dispute resolution process where mediation can be offered. The first is during an Early Intervention if we believe that an EI may not resolve the issues.
The second is when a conciliation inspection has been scheduled, but the outstanding items haven’t been resolved in the 30 days leading up to the inspection. And, third, mediation can be offered when a Warranty Assessment Report by Tarion is being challenged by either an owner or a builder.
Tensions can run high between homeowners and builders when there are disagreements over whether or not items need to be fixed. Early Intervention and mediation are two of the tools we use to help you and your builder find an acceptable solution before things escalate.
Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corporation.