Oakville Homes

March 7, 2012

Ontario Ombudsman can’t help you with Tarion. And you do need help in buying a house.

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Justin Bayard@Jay_Bee_

Interesting Tweet.  I saw this a couple of days ago and considering how the potential homeowners were treated in the Kanata Fairwinds project in the past, I’m not surprised.  It is similar to other comments I have heard about Mattamy from the trades – including Oakville and Alberta.

Recently had a discussion with the Ontario Ombudsman Office.  Short story – they have no jurisdiction over Tarion.  Tarion receives some instruction from the Ministry of Consumer Services but, their power over Tarion is somewhat limited if you have an issue with Tarion and your builder.  Here is info from their own website.

The Ministry of Consumer Services is responsible for creating and amending the legislation. The ministry collects and assesses information about the delivery of Ontario’s New Home Warranty Plan and provides Tarion with formal recommendations for program improvements based on issues that arise in the marketplace.

The ministry is unable to handle individual new home warranty cases or intervene in any Tarion warranty decision. The administration of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act is exclusively under Tarion’s jurisdiction.

So, what recourse do you have when Tarion sides with the builder?  And don’t forget, the makeup of the Tarion Board is weighted in favour of builders/developers/real estate, not the consumer.

Tarion’s New Home Buyer Ombudsperson was introduced as a second avenue of assistance for consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly or improperly by Tarion. The Ombudsperson is responsible for reviewing and resolving complaints regarding warranty claims to ensure that homeowners’ interests are protected and that Tarion takes a consistent, timely and fair approach to claims handling.

Tarion’s Ombudsperson does not make warranty decisions. Rather, the Ombudsperson acts as a resource if you have concerns about Tarion’s procedures and policies, and how they were applied in your case.

The Ombudsperson operates independently from all other Tarion departments, and reports directly to Tarion’s President & CEO.

So, you can complain to an office that reports directly to Tarion’s President and CEO.  I find it ironic that a lawyer who writes for the Toronto Star and is on the Tarion Board, works/believes in this system when in fact the Toronto Star does not like the Police investigating themselves and has supported an independant complaint system removed from the Police.  I guess your housing complaints aren’t as important in the scheme of things, according to the Toronto Star.

The reason I am writing today’s blog is to address some concerns people have passed on to me.  Just what can they do?  They are faced with potential builders (I’ve used Mattamy as a proven example) who do not necessarily give you the product you paid for, a warranty system that is heavily weighted on the side of the builder, an in-house complaint system and, a provincial government ombudsman that has no authority to listen to your complaints.

Back in 2008 this was recognized.

Homeowners who have problems with Tarion over construction defects, repairs and other items that the warranty program is meant to cover are often confused and disappointed when they find out that the “consumer services” ministry won’t intervene in their individual cases, Mr. Marin says in his 16-page report, Building Clarity, released today.

The Ombudsman received more than 100 complaints from homeowners about their dealings with Tarion and the Ministry, but because it is not a government agency, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate Tarion itself. For this reason, the Ombudsman’s investigation instead focused on the narrow issue of how the Ministry represents its relationship with Tarion to the public – and found its actions lacking.

Funny how quite some time ago I gave them the solution.  Allow potential homeowners the RIGHT to hire a house inspector to look after their interests in the construction of their home, much like commercial owners have.  This would be voluntary and the homeowner could opt in at their own cost.  Unlike the forced membership into Tarion, which has proven to be less than adequate for the homebuyer.  Note the quoted paragraph above where the Ombudsman is receiving complaints about the system.

You are forced to buy into a warranty system that is not adequate to protect the homebuyer and you cannot hire a house inspector to help you monitor the home.  Some builders, like Mattamy, are on record as having banned overly helpful house inspectors and making others sign forms limiting their involvement.  No, you have to wait and then hire a Mike Holmes to tear apart your house to fix the issues.

I think it would be proactive to allow a new home buyer to monitor the construction.  They would benefit, future buyers of the resale would benefit and, the municipality would benefit from having licensed home inspectors monitor construction.  As we have seen in my case, the Town of Oakville failed in this aspect and buried the report.

So, let your provincial elected official know you want PROTECTION and to have them support the legislation required to allow you to hire a house inspector to protect YOUR INVESTMENT.

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* The above is intended to show the reader examples of how to obtain a house inspector, no matter which builder you buy from. Remember, awards and advertising are designed to make you buy, not ensure you quality. We’ve shown that awards are not the standard on which to base your decision on. My use of my experiences are not made to embarass Mattamy Homes or Peter Gilgan but, are used because they are based on fact and show the larger picture that a house inspector is a requirement when buying a house, new or old from any builder. My experience only shows that in fact it can happen and is a fact of life. Your experiences with Mattamy may have differed.

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11 Comments »

  1. Hey friend, I’ve just started my own online presence for my business, but there are some great ideas in the list that I really could do and hadn’t thought of at all. I would like to add this to my real estate FB , not sure how to do it yet, but I will figure it out somehow.

    Comment by apartments toronto — May 2, 2012 @ 8:50 am | Reply

  2. Hi – I just stumbled upon your blog and am blown away by the similarities of our opinions on Tarion, the need to get a home inspection even when purchasing new etc. My husband and I are in a new home and the process has been a nightmare from the date of handing over our deposit. We are exhausted by the lack of help for the new home buyer. The “salesperson” represented herself as a realtor, yet has no designation. When we spoke with RECO (the governing body ensuring the REBBA 2002 is in place) they advised that they have no jurisdiction over new home builders; only on resale transactions. Our experience with Tarion and the Building department seem to “be in bed” with the builders which leave no where for the consumer to turn.. I would love have further discussion/communication with you to pick your brain on some thoughts we have regarding our current situation.

    Comment by Cheryl Negovanlis — November 11, 2012 @ 7:58 am | Reply

  3. Hi Cheryl Our experience is not only the same as yours on the Tarion ” position ” but we have short of 1,000 emails on our nightmare house to substantiate our case. Not only does Tarion side with the builder but they allow flagrant violation of their own rules and clauses to insure builder protection. The feeling of not having anywhere to run nor resort to is totally and completely our own also, Watch for our incredible story being written as we speak because it is still far from over on HOUSESHAMS.COM . Not ready yet but it will be there in all its details and horrid facts. How our society and institutions can allow this kind of faceless dishonesty and /or incompetence is criminal.

    Comment by Nicole — November 16, 2012 @ 1:31 pm | Reply

    • I have written to CBC Marketplace…. I think the conspiracy nature of the industry is most certainly newsworthy. Not only to unveil the unethical practices, but to warn others of what to watch out for when purchasing new.

      Comment by Cheryl — November 17, 2012 @ 8:21 am | Reply

      • I have not yet written because we are trying desperately on our own to solve our problems and that is a full time job. Our problems have been ongoing for three years since we took occupancy. but I can tell you that I am collecting media resources and marketplace which I watch regularly is on my list. My internet story is exactly for that purpose : warn others what to watch out for when purchasing AND keep abreast of what the so called protective institutions claim to do and the warning signs of the conspiracy at work !!!

        Comment by Nicole — November 17, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

  4. British Columbia has a far better system where Warranty Providers operate in a competive marketplace. They must be either an \Insurance company or backed by an insurance company who in turn is regulated by the Insurance commision and FICOM. Alberta and Manitoba are in the near process of implementing similar legislation to that of BC.

    Why is it Tarion enjoys a monopoly?? Coverages for homes in BC and soon in Alberta are far superior to that of Tarion. 1 year for all labour and materials (15 months common property) 2 years building code violations, heating and ac sytems, plumbing and electrical, 5 years water penetration and 10 years for structural defects. Here we are in Ontario stuck with a company who enjoys a government sanctioned monopoly, seems to be above any insurance regulatory board, offers less coverage and who cares less about the consumer. Why not let true insurance companies in?? This only seems to make sense to me. I wonder what CEO at Tarion makes in this joke of a nonprofit setup.
    Jim

    Comment by Jim — December 10, 2012 @ 7:27 pm | Reply

    • Hi Jim thanks for the info on how it operates in the West ; however, we find that though Tarion displays some deadlines and critical time periods within which you must ” fill out forms to report discrepancies ” the dilemma seems to be for example, the difficulty in PROVING building code violations….. on a new house with water infiltration that reveals the obvious, should there a question about whether or not the code has been violated. We are forced to resort to legal action at our expense…… How would that be handled in B.C.?

      Comment by Nicole — December 13, 2012 @ 12:29 pm | Reply

  5. […] Tarion – a builder/developer dominated program with less than golden reviews.  A comment by Jim (1st comment below) notes that in British Colombia, the warranty program is run by the insurance […]

    Pingback by Are Ontario builders afraid of B.C. home warranty program? Are they Mr. Gilgan? « Oakville Homes — December 12, 2012 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Bill Dimopolos — January 8, 2013 @ 4:46 am | Reply

  7. re Justin Bayard’s input above where he states so justifiably :” The reason I am writing today’s blog is to address some concerns people have passed on to me. Just what can they do? They are faced with potential builders (I’ve used Mattamy as a proven example) who do not necessarily give you the product you paid for, a warranty system that is heavily weighted on the side of the builder, an in-house complaint system and, a provincial government ombudsman that has no authority to listen to your complaints.”……. Please see our very latest reply to a three year ordeal with Tarion , still very active to this date and which corroborates J B ‘s statement without the shadow of a doubt , Sorry that it does not provide a solution nor assistance for people under similar circumstances, but is a vivid proof of a ” SYSTEM ” that works one way only and contradicts the said organization’s outrageous, outspoken mandate !!!

    TO TARION CEO dated January 11, 2013 :

    Without prejudice
    I received a “clarification” from Mr Harkin, which is impossible.
    Since you have spent some time on our behalf, I am sending this email, to simply acknowledge your time.

    The complete process with Tarion has left us perplexed and of course, completely frustrated.
    You have stated on numerous occasions that you and Tarion treat water infiltration and mold hazard with priority.
    For the past 3 years our home has had water infiltration and the ever present danger of rot and mold.

    Each and every time that we contacted Tarion there have been innumerable delays, and extensions to deadlines and not much priority.
    Your last clarification from Mr Harkin certainly has priority – OUR time to fulfill an impossible task, is 15 days, as of yesterday – as pointed out to us!

    Meanwhile our builder has missed every deadline, breached his contract, obligations and promises to us, etc, and of course has not a single blotch on his Tarion record.

    We fail to find much fairness, respect, comfort or protection in Tarion consumer protection practices and policies.
    We will fix our home and hold everyone accountable,

    Comment by Nicole — January 11, 2013 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

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    Comment by Gustavo — March 4, 2013 @ 9:24 am | Reply


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