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COVID-19 Pandemic Response: Information for Builders

Tarion is committed to keeping you informed as we continue to work through this evolving situation. The information below is intended to help answer your questions. As more information becomes available, we will continue to update this page. 

November 23, 2020 Update

As the number of COVID-19 cases in the province continues to change, we are closely monitoring the current provincial and regional health and safety guidelines and making adjustments to our practices as needed.  Information on this page is updated whenever changes are made.

Toronto and Peel have been moved into ‘Lockdown’ and Durham, Hamilton, Halton, Waterloo and York are in the ‘Red-Control’ level of the provincial COVID-19 response framework. To see Tarion’s response, please refer to our COVID-19 advisory page and the updated Q&As below. To find out more about the provincial COVID-19 framework please visit here.

If you have further questions about the information provided or your situation, please contact our Customer Service team at 1-877-982-7466 or email covid19@tarion.com.

General Advisories

Resources for Builders

FAQ for Home Builders regarding COVID-19

Important Note: The following questions and answers are intended for general guidance and do not constitute legal or other professional advice. The reader is advised to seek legal advice from their own legal counsel to address their particular circumstances.

  1. Toronto and Peel regions have been put into ‘lockdown’, what does this mean for repairs or inspections? 
  2. My municipality/region is in the “Red-Control” level of the provincial framework. How does that impact our ability to make repairs and address homeowner concerns?
  3. We are working in a municipality which has taken additional steps on top of the provincial measures, does this affect us?
  4. What if a homeowner refuses to wear a mask and our employees/trades will not enter a home due to concerns for their safety?
  5. When am I obligated to complete repairs?
  6. What if a homeowner refuses to allow my reps or tradespeople into their home due to concerns about COVID-19?
  7. How should I handle emergencies?
  8. Is Tarion doing in-person inspections?
  9. How will Tarion handle the backlog of inspections due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
  10. Why is Tarion using virtual inspections?
  11. How does a virtual inspection work?
  12. How can I be sure that the virtual inspection software accurately shows the issue in the home?
  13. What if I feel the virtual inspection software doesn't accurately depict an issue?
  14. What is the builder's role during the virtual inspection?
  15. Will these virtual inspections be chargeable?
  16. How do I raise an issue with the inspection?
  17. Why has the conciliation fee for homeowners been waived until the end of the year?
  18. How will the reinstatement of repair periods affect timelines regarding seasonal items?
  19. How will this affect timelines regarding special seasonal items?
  20. Does the resumption of timelines mean that I can no longer declare a new unavoidable delay?
  21. Does the resumption of timelines trigger the remobilization phase and Second Notice for the Unavoidable Delay provisions of the addendum?
  22. What happens if I don’t want to do a Pre-Delivery Inspection due to health concerns?
  23. What should builders do if a purchaser insists they can't close due to COVID-19? Does the builder have to return the deposit in this case? Especially when they have chosen all of the material of this new build.
  24. Can a purchaser refuse occupancy as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak?
  25. Can a purchaser not close on an interim closing during the orders due to COVID-19 outbreak reasons?
  26. Will I be able to get a municipal occupancy inspection for my completed home/condo?
  27. Are there formal standards set in place for how "sanitized" a home is upon delivery?
  28. Can we still mail in cheques to pay enrolment fees?
  29. If a builder has bonding money and has a reduced number of units that will move forward this year, how can we request a portion of this security to be returned?
  30. How would a builder go about requesting changing their bonding/security arrangement?
  31. My licence is due to expire, do I still need to renew it?

Toronto and Peel regions have been put into ‘lockdown’, what does this mean for repairs or inspections? 

Under the provincial COVID-19 response framework, construction and repairs can proceed in these regions with the appropriate health and safety precautions. 

While warranty repairs can continue, we know there can be concerns both from the homeowner and builder. To help address this issue, Tarion has extended repair periods for homes in Peel and Toronto by 30 days (taking into consideration the holiday period) so that there is the flexibility to postpone repairs during this time, except for emergency and health and safety issues, or to allow builders more options for scheduling trades to minimize the number of homes they enter per day.

If homeowners and builders are willing, they can continue to work together in order to facilitate repairs in a safe way that is consistent with the health and safety guidelines endorsed by the province. See our Guidance for Repairs during COVID-19 advisory for recommendations on how to conduct repairs safely. 

Requests for additional time may be submitted if needed and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Builders will still be expected to address emergency repairs on a priority basis. 

All in-home inspections for homes in Toronto and Peel will be conducted virtually except in very limited situations. Inspections of exterior items may be conducted in person if required.  

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My municipality/region is in the “Red-Control” level of the provincial framework. How does that impact our ability to make repairs and address homeowner concerns?

As of November 23, 2020, Durham, Hamilton, Halton, Waterloo and York regions are in the ‘Red-Control’ level.  Under the current provincial framework, repairs and construction are still allowed in ‘Red-Control’ zones.

However, there are specific public health recommended safety measures which must be followed – including a requirement for face coverings to be worn inside indoor workplaces (i.e. a home where repairs are being done).

We encourage you to review the current public health and safety advice and recommendations by visiting the provincial COVID-19 site.

If a homeowner is not comfortable granting access to their home because of health and safety concerns, Tarion encourages you to enter into a written agreement with them to identify how and when the repairs can be completed, including extending the timelines for the builder to conduct repairs. If such an agreement is reached, Tarion should be advised. 

If a homeowner and builder cannot agree to a reasonable extension, you should contact Tarion at covid19@tarion.com for assistance. 

Builders in any region of the province who wish to request repair period extensions due to COVID-19 should follow the process outlined in Guidance for Repairs during COVID-19

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We are working in a municipality which has taken additional steps on top of the provincial measures, does this affect us?

Currently, no municipalities/regions have implemented measures which Tarion feels would prohibit a builder from fulfilling their warranty obligations. 

Specifically, under the current additional measures, both repairs and construction are still allowed in both Toronto and Peel regions.

However, there are specific public health recommended safety measures which must be followed – including a requirement for face coverings to be worn inside indoor workplaces (i.e. a home where repairs are being made). We encourage you to review the current public health and safety advice and recommendations by visiting the provincial COVID-19 site.

If you have specific questions relating to your operations, please contact Tarion at covid19@tarion.com or reach out to your local public health unit for assistance. 

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What if a homeowner refuses to wear a mask and our employees/trades will not enter a home due to concerns for their safety?

We encourage homeowners and builders to work together in order to facilitate repairs in a safe way that is consistent with the health and safety guidelines endorsed by the province.

If builders are having difficulty completing repairs due to issues related to COVID-19, including homeowners who are not comfortable allowing outside workers in, homeowners who are not abiding by health and safety measures, or trades/employees who have safety concerns about entering a home, builders can request additional time for repairs. 

If builders require additional time, they are encouraged to contact the homeowners and enter into written agreements with them to identify how and when the repairs can be completed. Those agreements should be provided to Tarion so that the timelines can be formally adjusted. 

If a builder is unable to come to a written agreement with a homeowner, then they are encouraged to contact Tarion and request an extension. The request should be submitted to covid19@tarion.com at least 10 days before the expiry of the applicable repair period. The following information should be provided with the request for extension:

  • The enrolment number(s) for the home(s) affected;
  • The warranty form(s) affected;
  • A complete explanation of the builder’s circumstances (i.e. why additional time is required to complete the repairs);
  • The length of additional time being requested.

Tarion will review the information provided and will contact the builder if additional information is required. Tarion will then confirm whether additional time will be granted and, if so, the length of the additional time. For more information on the process for requesting extensions, refer to our Guidance on Repairs during COVID19 advisory.

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Repairs

When am I obligated to complete repairs?

Repair periods were reinstated effective August 27, 2020 for all outstanding warranty repairs for forms submitted prior to the suspension of timelines on March 16, 2020, as well as for forms submitted between March 16, 2020 and August 26, 2020. The Emergency Order that suspended statutory limitation periods was lifted September 11, 2020 and all forms submitted from that date onward are subject to normal repair periods. 

If builders have any questions about their specific circumstance, they should contact Tarion’s customer service team at 1-877-982-7466 or email covid19@tarion.com.

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What if a homeowner refuses to allow my reps or tradespeople into their home due to concerns about COVID-19?

If a homeowner is not comfortable granting access to their home because of health and safety concerns, Tarion encourages them to enter into a written agreement with their builder to identify how and when the repairs can be completed, including extending the timelines for the builder to conduct repairs.  If such an agreement is reached, Tarion should be advised. If a homeowner and builder cannot agree to a reasonable extension, they can contact Tarion at covid19@tarion.com for assistance. 

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How should I handle emergencies?

Builders are advised to continue to follow the emergency processes outlined in Builder Bulletin 42 and Builder Bulletin 49. If homeowners or builders have any questions about their specific circumstance, they should contact Tarion’s customer service team at 1-877-982-7466 or email covid19@tarion.com.

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Inspections

Is Tarion doing in-person inspections?

In response to the increase in COVID-19 cases, Tarion is taking additional health and safety precautions to limit in-person interactions and entry into homes. To protect the health of homeowners, builder representatives, and Tarion employees, Tarion will be conducting conciliations and inspections using our virtual inspection tools wherever possible. All claim inspections (to confirm that warranted repairs have been completed) will be conducted virtually or via submitted documentation (e.g. photos, reports, etc.), except in exceptional circumstances.

Prior to a conciliation or inspection, a builder will receive a list of the items that will be included as part of the conciliation/inspection and confirmation from the Warranty Services Representative on how the inspection will proceed (i.e. virtually, in-person or a combination).  The builder will be asked to participate in the virtual inspection. The homeowner and builder will be contacted separately by a Tarion representative prior to the inspection to discuss the items that will be reviewed during the inspection.

A Warranty Assessment Report will be issued to both the homeowner and the builder after the inspection, outlining the warranty assessment for the items that were viewed during the inspection. The assessment will indicate whether the item was viewed virtually or in-person.  The builder will then have the post-conciliation repair period (30 days) to address any warranted items. At this time, Tarion is assessing chargeability at the claim inspection (if one takes place) based on whether the builder repaired the warranted defects prior to a claim inspection being conducted by Tarion. Please refer to our COVID-19 Temporary Supplement to Builder Bulletin 20 for more information.

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How will Tarion handle the backlog of inspections due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Tarion resumed inspections beginning July 13 and has re-scheduled all inspections that Tarion previously postponed due to the Emergency Order that suspended statutory limitation periods. At this time, every effort is being made to conduct all inspections and meetings in a timely manner. To view our advisory on our current health and safety protocols click here.  

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Why is Tarion using virtual inspections?

Tarion has been using virtual inspection technology on a case-by-case basis since 2019 as a way to make inspections more convenient and accessible for homeowners. In response to the increasing cases of COVID-19, virtual inspections offer a contactless way for homeowners to obtain assessments on their issues while physical distancing directives are still in place.

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How does a virtual inspection work?

A homeowner downloads a free app on their mobile phone, then calls Tarion and uses the app to provide a live video feed that is viewable by the Tarion representative. Tarion will then send a link to the builder representative to join the live video feed on their own device. Being able to see what the homeowner is seeing, the Tarion representative can ask questions, provide directions and take measurements using this virtual inspection technology. The builder representative and the homeowner will also be able to provide their input on the issues being reviewed at the inspection.

Tarion may record the inspection or take photographs during the inspection and the recordings and photographs will be available to the homeowner and the builder.
In cases where there are concerns about the ability to assess some issues on the warranty form, the virtual inspection can be done from outside the home. This will allow the Tarion representative to assess the majority of the items remotely but with the proximity to allow them to enter the home to take a quick measurement or look at something in person, if necessary. 

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How can I be sure that the virtual inspection software accurately shows the issue in the home?

By using a live video feed, a Tarion representative is able to see what a homeowner sees in real time. In addition, the software makes it possible to take virtual measurements, which the homeowner can verify with their own measurements at the same time if they wish. 

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What if I feel the virtual inspection software doesn't accurately depict an issue?

Both homeowners and builders are entitled to view the recording, photographs and the measurements (if any are taken) from the virtual inspection. If after reviewing the footage a homeowner or the builder does not feel that it accurately depicts the issue, they can let the Tarion representative know and Tarion will consider next steps, which may include a reinspection that may take place in-person. 

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What is the builder’s role during the virtual inspection?

The builder can participate in the virtual inspection along the same lines as an in-person inspection. They can provide their input on the issues being reviewed, can ask questions of the homeowner and the Tarion representative, and can ask that the homeowner provide a different angle of the item being reviewed. As with in-person inspections, Tarion expects that the parties at a conciliation will act professionally and respectfully towards one another.

In cases where there are concerns about the ability to assess some issues on the warranty form, the virtual inspection can be done from outside the home. This will allow the Tarion representative to assess the majority of the items remotely but with the proximity to allow them if it can be dome safely to enter the home to take a quick measurement or look at something in person, if necessary. This approach will decrease the amount of time in the home and not require another date to be scheduled. 

The Tarion representative will advise the builder in advance whether the conciliation will be conducted virtually from outside the home, and the builder can choose whether to attend the conciliation (virtually) from outside the home or from another location.  If the builder is not present at the home and entry into the home is required, the Tarion representative will contact the builder and review the issues with them prior to issuing the warranty assessment.

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Will these virtual inspections be chargeable?

The chargeability assessment will not occur at the time of a virtual inspection. The assessment of chargeability will occur if or when a claim inspection occurs. If the items are resolved prior to the claim inspection, in these circumstances, chargeability will not apply. In addition, the exceptions to chargeability listed in Builder Bulletin 20 may apply during the period between the virtual inspection and the claim inspection (i.e. during the repair period). Please refer to the COVID-19 Temporary Supplement to Builder Bulletin 20 for more information.

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How do I raise an issue with the inspection?

If after reviewing the recording, photographs and/or measurements from the virtual inspection a homeowner or builder does not agree with the results of the inspection or the assessment, they can advise the Tarion representative and Tarion will then consider next steps, which may include scheduling an in-person reinspection.  

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Why has the conciliation fee for homeowners been waived until the end of the year?

Tarion has waived the conciliation fees for homeowners for the remainder of the year due to the extended length of the Emergency Order and in recognition of the financial impact it has had on some homeowners.

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How will the reinstatement of repair periods affect timelines regarding seasonal items?

Repair periods for seasonal items resumed on August 27, 2020 and will be extended to November 15, 2020. If builders require further extensions to complete seasonal work, they can request it under the Extraordinary Situation provisions of Builder Bulletin 42.

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How will this affect timelines regarding special seasonal items?

Repair periods for special seasonal items begin May 1 and end November 15 each year. Builders will have 270 seasonal weather days from the date that a warranty form was filed to complete work on special seasonal items. Repair periods for warranty forms with special seasonal items submitted prior to March 16, 2020 resumed on August 27, 2020 at the point at which they were paused on November 15, 2019 (the last day of the seasonal weather period). For example, if a repair period for special seasonal work was at day 150 on November 15, 2019, it resumed on August 27, 2020 at day 151. For forms filed during the emergency period (March 16 up to August 26), the special seasonal repair period commenced on August 27, 2020. If builders require further extensions to complete special seasonal work, they can request it under the Extraordinary Situation provisions of Builder Bulletin 42.

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Unavoidable Delays / Closings / PDIs

Does the resumption of timelines mean that I can no longer declare a new unavoidable delay?

No, the COVID-19 outbreak is ongoing. Some homes may not yet have been affected but new circumstances may arise due to the pandemic that will affect home delivery that are unrelated to resumption of timelines. There may be different impacts resulting in an unavoidable delay on the delivery dates of different homes depending on a number of factors, for example:

  • The stage of construction.
  • What, if any, trades, suppliers, employees, governmental approvals are affected, including government site closure orders.
  • How quickly the labour, supplier and/or governmental approvals return to normal.
  • Problems related to disrupted trades/supply chains.
  • Potential that trade backlogs in turn cause backlogs for government inspections.
  • Possible impact of trade delays and backlog delays pushing back construction into unseasonable weather.

For further information on COVID-19 and unavoidable delays, please see the Q&A on COVID-19: Unavoidable Delay & Critical Dates.

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Does the resumption of timelines trigger the remobilization phase and Second Notice for the Unavoidable Delay provisions of the addendum?

No. The determinations for each stage of the process for extending Critical Dates due to Unavoidable Delay must be done on a case-by-case basis by the vendor. Please see the Q&A on COVID-19: Unavoidable Delay & Critical Dates.

The timing of remobilization and the Second Notice for Unavoidable Delays should not be governed by whether the ‘outbreak” itself continues or whether the Government of Ontario’s emergency order is still in place. The COVID-19 outbreak is an Unavoidable Delay event and it is the impacts of the outbreak on the delivery of the home (including the remobilization period) which determine when the Second Notice should be sent. For example, if the vendor has made the assessment of the impacts and believes the impediments to closing are removed, it is permissible to send out the Second Notice -- even if the emergency order has not yet been lifted or even after it has been lifted -- so long as the order itself does not prevent or impact the delivery of the home.

Do not send out the Second Notice until you are ready. You must take this exercise seriously and act prudently but reasonably in assessing the extra time needed. 

In a circumstance where a Second Notice has already been sent, but there are new and unanticipated impacts from the pandemic or a subsequent surge or wave of the pandemic, then it may be possible for vendors to re-engage the Unavoidable Delay provisions of the Addendum so long as the vendor meets certain requirements. For a discussion of this question and likely requirements please refer to this Q&A on Unavoidable Delays and Critical Dates.

If the Vendor is not able to provide the detailed information regarding the impacts , or cannot satisfy the possible requirements, then Tarion is likely to consider any purported subsequent First Notice as invalid and delay compensation may be a consequence. 

In all circumstances, vendors should properly monitor the length of the impacts of the outbreak, take the time to figure out the anticipated additional delay (Remobilization Period) and then send the Second Notice once you have a reasonable level of comfort that the extra time you have added on to the construction schedule will be sufficient. Re-engaging the unavoidable delay process more than once for a single home may be difficult and you should consult a lawyer. 

For further information on the COVID-19 outbreak and unavoidable delays, please see the Q&A on COVID-19: Unavoidable Delay & Critical Dates.

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What happens if I don’t want to do a Pre-Delivery Inspection due to health concerns?

Given the current public health situation, we do not consider it absolutely necessary that the PDI occur prior to a closing in the presence of both the builder and the homeowner.

However, it is Tarion's position that:

  • in-person PDIs can happen if participants adhere to provincial health and safety and physical distancing guidelines,
  •  both parties agree to the conditions under which the PDI would be carried out,
  • if one or both parties do not consent to an in-person PDI, we recommend that builders and homeowners each conduct their own separate reviews of the home.

In order to assist homeowners and builders who wish to conduct an in-person PDI, Tarion has put together guidelines available here. Please note that this guidance provides basic information only and is not intended to take the place of public health advice, nor does it constitute legal advice. We recommend that builders and homeowners consult with their legal advisors for any questions regarding risk or liability, and that they monitor current health advice issued by the province.

In the event that one or both parties do not consent to an in-person PDI, we recommend that builders and homeowners each conduct their own separate reviews of the home. Builders should complete their own review of the home or unit prior to possession or occupancy, and document the condition of the home. The homeowner should conduct their own “delivery” inspection as soon as reasonably possible after taking possession. The homeowner should document as best they can (including photos and/or video) any missing/incomplete items or damages which they discover and believe were caused prior to when they took possession. 

The records of the homeowner and builder can serve as evidence of the state of the home close to occupancy and may be helpful in the event a dispute arises later as to whether an item of damage was caused by the homeowner or builder.

The PDI form is not a Tarion claim form, so if an item is not noted on the PDI form this does not necessarily impact its warranty coverage. If a homeowner notes an item on their 30-day form which is not on the PDI, the item noted will still form part of their warranty claim. The fact that it was not listed on the PDI will be relevant if is an item of damage such as a chip in a countertop that may have occurred after possession. In this case, it will be helpful for the homeowner to show that they noted the damage as close to taking possession or occupancy of the home as possible as noted above, in the event that the claim is not remedied by the builder and the matter comes to Tarion for resolution.

We urge all parties to approach the occupancy of the home and handling of the PDI in a reasonable way in light of the current health situation in the province.

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What should builders do if a purchaser insists they can't close due to COVID-19? Does the builder have to return the deposit in this case? Especially when they have chosen all of the material of this new build.

The terms of closing are set out in each Agreement of Purchase and Sale and are contractual matters between the home buyer and builder. We realize this is an unprecedented situation. It is in everyone’s best interest to work together to complete these closings, and Tarion is asking builders to consider the impacts of the outbreak on their purchasers to see if there’s a fair and reasonable agreement that can be reached, and would also suggest that you speak to your lawyer to review your agreement.

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Can a purchaser refuse occupancy as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak?

These are truly unprecedented times and we encourage you to be fair and reasonable when buyers have concerns surrounding COVID-19 . If the issue is with the safety of the home itself, builders may want to consider what options may help their buyers feel safe. We encourage you to keep the lines of communication open and find a reasonable solution that gets to the heart of your buyers’ concerns. We know it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to complete these closings as quickly and safely as possible.

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Can a purchaser not close on an interim closing during the orders due to COVID-19 outbreak reasons?

The terms of closing are set out in each Agreement of Purchase and Sale and are contractual matters between the homeowner and builder. We know it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to complete these closings, so we are asking builders to consider the impacts of the outbreak on their purchasers to see if there’s a fair and reasonable agreement that can be reached. Builders and homeowners should consult legal advice.

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Will I be able to get a municipal occupancy inspection for my completed home/condo?

Each municipality has set its own service level and safety protocols, so builders need to contact the applicable municipal building department in advance in order to be prepared.

Builders should also take care to familiarize themselves with the health and safety measures each municipality has put in place for the preparation of inspections, as well as during the inspection itself. Failure to follow these heightened protocols could result in unexpected delays if inspections need to be rebooked.

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Are there formal standards set in place for how "sanitized" a home is upon delivery?

No. These are truly unprecedented times and we encourage you to be fair and reasonable when buyers have concerns surrounding the outbreak. If the issue is with the safety of the home itself, builders may want to consider what options may help their buyers feel safe. We encourage you to keep the lines of communication open and find a reasonable solution that gets to the heart of your buyers’ concerns. We know it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to complete these closings as quickly and safely as possible.

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License Renewals / Securities

Can we still mail in cheques to pay enrolment fees?

For renewal or enrolment payments, builders should use the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) feature available in Tarion’s builder portal, BuilderLink. We encourage builders who are not registered on BuilderLink, to set up an account. If you are already a BuilderLink user but do not have EFT permissions and would like to use this method to avoid any delays, please complete the Appointment of Administrator Form. Once you have been granted permissions, you will need to create your EFT Agreement in order for BuilderLink to know where funds are being withdrawn from and agree to have your banking information validated. Once done, there is a 5-7 business day (bank dependent) processing period before you can use this method of payment. Should you have any questions, kindly email builderlink@tarion.com for more information.

If it is not possible to use electronic funds transfer, builders may send cheques via mail, but should be aware they may encounter processing delays.

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If a builder has bonding money and has a reduced number of units that will move forward this year, how can we request a portion of this security to be returned?

Questions about security arrangements, should be sent to the L&U analyst on file or emailed to L&U@tarion.com.

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How would a builder go about requesting changing their bonding/security arrangement?

Questions about security arrangements, should be sent to the L&U analyst on file or emailed to L&U@tarion.com.

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My licence is due to expire, do I still need to renew it?

The Home Construction Regulatory Authority (the HCRA) is expected to be designated as the new regulator for new home builders and vendors under the New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017 effective February 1, 2021, subject to the approval of the designation by the government. From that point onward, the HCRA would be responsible for all builder licensing and renewals, among other responsibilities. It should be noted that any valid Tarion registration at the time the HCRA becomes the new regulator will automatically become a valid licence with the HCRA.

To facilitate a smooth transition of licensing responsibilities to the new regulator, Builders whose registrations are up for renewal between November 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021, will receive a temporary 150-day extension of their registration and any renewal will then be processed by the HCRA.

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