There are two types of independent mediation that may be used to resolve warranty disputes:
- Independent mediation with Tarion; and,
- Independent mediation with your builder.
Please see below for further information about each process.
Independent Mediation with Tarion
In certain situations where a homeowner disputes a warranty assessment, Tarion may offer independent mediation as a course of action if Tarion feels it may help to resolve the outstanding issue(s). The objective of mediation is to find ways to resolve warranty disputes without having to go through a formal hearing process at the Licence Appeal Tribunal.
This type of mediation is between the homeowner and Tarion only (it does not involve the builder); is conducted by an independent, external mediator of the homeowner's choice; and, is strictly confidential.
How does Tarion initiate mediation with a homeowner?
Generally, the mediation process begins when you request a decision letter from Tarion. Tarion will review your file and determine if mediation may be an appropriate course of action to resolve your warranty issue(s). If Tarion believes that mediation will help, we will contact you and offer this option.
How much does mediation with Tarion cost?
Tarion will cover all expenses associated with this type of mediation. As a result, there is no cost to the homeowner.
How do I choose a mediator?
Tarion will send you a list of mediators who are qualified through the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario and have experience in Tarion matters. You can select a mediator from this list or put forward someone else. The Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario is a useful resource to help you find a qualified mediator. Visit their website at adr-ontario.ca.
When does the mediation happen and how can I prepare?
When you have decided on a mediator, Tarion will schedule the mediation at a mutually agreeable date and time. The mediation will typically take place within three weeks from the date you agree to it.
Before the mediation date, the mediator will send you a mediation agreement. The mediation agreement will outline the process and any information and/or documentation the mediator would like you to provide. Other things you may consider in advance include:
- Whether there is any additional information and/or documentation that you would like to provide Tarion;
- Whether you believe something was overlooked or not considered in Tarion’s assessment; and,
- Whether there is any information you have which will help Tarion understand the resolution you are seeking.
What happens at the mediation?
The mediation will be scheduled for a half day or full day, depending on the number and complexity of the issues involved. If an in-person mediation is not possible for any reason, it will be conducted by teleconference or videoconference.
Mediation is an informal, private, and confidential meeting that involves you, a Tarion representative, and the mediator. It is expected that you and the Tarion representative will try to reach a resolution to your file through negotiation.
What if mediation with Tarion doesn't resolve my issue(s)?
If mediation is unsuccessful and no agreement is reached, you still have the right to resume your claim with Tarion, including a decision letter with appeal rights to the Licence Appeal Tribunal.
Independent Mediation with Your Builder
Mediation is where a neutral and independent expert, called a “mediator,” is hired to help bring about a resolution between you and your builder. Tarion is not involved in any part of this process.
Mediation is voluntary. It is less formal and generally less expensive than litigation, and there is also more of a focus on the interests rather than the legal rights of you and your builder.
You and your builder must agree on which mediator to hire, and when and where the mediation will take place. You must also agree on a settlement.
What happens at a mediation with my builder?
Mediations are typically conducted in an informal office setting, and can last for hours or days. The mediator begins by reviewing the ground rules. After that, you and your builder will have an opportunity to express your views of the issues in dispute.
You will continue to narrow down the issues and possible solutions together. You may be required to participate in what is known as a “caucus” – this is where you and your builder are moved to separate rooms, with the mediator going back and forth between the rooms.
If you reach a settlement, record all details of the agreement in writing and make sure that both you and your builder sign it and receive a copy. Your mediator should be able to help with the settlement agreement.
How much does mediation with my builder cost?
The cost of hiring a mediator ranges from several hundred dollars a day, to several hundred dollars an hour or more. Determine in advance what the total cost of the mediation will be and how you and your builder will cover it. All of this should be set out in your mediation agreement.
How do I start a mediation with my builder?
Contact your builder to find out if they are open to this approach. Some questions you need to discuss in advance are:
- What are the issues you need to resolve?
- How will you choose a mediator?
- What is an acceptable cost/length of time?
- How will you share the cost?
When you have agreed on these, you can begin to choose a mediator. One way to do this is for one of you to nominate several candidates within a suitable price range and allow the other to choose one of the nominees.
The Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario is a useful resource to help you find a qualified mediator. Visit their website at adr-ontario.ca.
When you have decided on a mediator, confirm their availability and willingness to mediate, arrange a time and place for the mediation, and enter into the mediation agreement.
How do I prepare for a mediation with my builder?
Identify the issues and gather relevant documents. The mediator may ask you to prepare other items before the mediation, such as a short summary of your position on the issues and what attempts toward a settlement have already been made.
Everyone should agree on who can or cannot attend the mediation. You may wish to have lawyers or experts involved, and certain individuals excluded.