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COVID-19 Pandemic Response: Information for Homeowners

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

Advisories for Home Buyers

Additional Resources

FAQ for Homeowners 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 my builder’s ability to make repairs?
  3. What if I’m not comfortable granting access to my home or my builder’s employees/trades will not enter my home due to concerns for their safety?
  4. When will my builder be required to do repairs on my home?
  5. How will the reinstatement of repair periods affect timelines regarding seasonal items?
  6. How will this affect timelines regarding special seasonal items?
  7. What should I do if I have an emergency or health and safety issue in my new home?
  8. When can I request a conciliation? When will previously postponed conciliations be scheduled?
  9. How will conciliation inspections, claim inspections and common element meetings be handled?
  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. Why has the conciliation fee for homeowners been waived until the end of the year?
  15. Will my closing be delayed?
  16. Am I entitled to claim delayed closing or delayed occupancy compensation because of the pandemic?
  17. What if my home was already delayed prior to the outbreak being declared?
  18. I have a payment due to my builder, but I was laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak (e.g., my company was not considered essential). Can I defer my payment?
  19. My builder has advised me that even though my home is almost finished, I won’t be able to take possession when I was supposed to because they can’t get an occupancy permit due to the pandemic. I’ve already sold my current home and don’t want to wait – what can I do?
  20. I’m ready to take possession but I’m afraid to do the pre-delivery inspection because of COVID-19. My builder says that they can do it without me. Are they allowed to do that? Will it affect my warranty coverage?
  21. My builder says my closing will be going ahead in two weeks. But because of my health and the risk associated with COVID-19, I don’t want to move in. Do I have to close or can I tell my builder to move back the closing?

Repairs

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 may 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 on Repairs during COVID19 advisory for recommendations on how to conduct repairs safely. 

Repair periods for homes in Toronto and Peel will be extended by 30 days to allow builders more flexibility in scheduling trades to try to avoid them entering multiple homes per day. Requests for additional time may be submitted if needed and will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Builders will 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.  

My municipality/region is in the “Red-Control” level of the provincial framework. How does that impact my builder’s ability to make repairs?

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 you are not comfortable granting access to your home because of health and safety concerns, Tarion encourages you to enter into a written agreement with your 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 you and your builder cannot agree to a reasonable extension, you should contact Tarion at covid19@tarion.com  for assistance.

What if I’m not comfortable granting access to my home or my builder’s employees/trades will not enter my 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 you are not comfortable allowing outside workers in, or builders’ representatives or trades  have safety concerns about entering your home, you can enter into a written agreement with you 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 you and your builder are unable to come to a written agreement, then you builder is 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 with you and the builder 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.
 

When will my builder be required to do repairs on my home?

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. Builders are expected to respond to warranty issues related to emergencies and health and safety – including water penetration, radon, mould, structural issues – on a priority basis while adhering to provincial Government of Ontario health and safety and physical distancing guidelines. We have provided guidance for repairs here. It is Tarion’s position that both parties need to agree to the conditions under which the repairs would be carried out. 

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

Seasonal warranty items involve service requests regarding the exterior of the home which are weather dependent (e.g. exterior painting, caulking, mortar work). 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. If seasonal items are not completed by November 16, homeowners can request a conciliation between April 15 and May 17 the following year when seasonal weather period resumes.

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How will this affect timelines regarding special seasonal items?

The builder has 270 days of “seasonable weather” from the date of possession to complete any warranted special seasonal items reported on a 30-Day or Year-End Form (unless a longer period within the time limits permitted under applicable municipal agreements was negotiated between the builder and the homeowner).Special seasonal items would include items such as grading, sod, installation of driveways, patios or decks. “Seasonable weather” is the period between May 1 and November 15 (inclusive) of any given calendar year. There are 199 days of seasonable weather in one calendar year.

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 recommenced 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. If special seasonal items are not completed by November 16, homeowners can request a conciliation between April 15 and May 17 the following year when seasonal weather period resumes.

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What should I do if I have an emergency or health and safety issue in my new home?

Homeowners can still contact their builder and Tarion regarding any concerns with health and safety issues or other emergency concerns.

For homeowners: Homeowners are advised to follow the emergency processes outlined on Tarion.com here.

For condominium corporations: Condominium corporations are advised to follow the emergency processes outlined in the Condominium Corporation Information Package and Builder Bulletin 49.

For vendors/builders: Builders are advised 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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Conciliations and Inspections

When can I request a conciliation? When will previously postponed conciliations be scheduled?

All warranty timelines and request for conciliation periods were reinstated effective September 11, 2020 (at the time at which the province’s Emergency Orders were lifted). All postponed conciliations have been rescheduled to the earliest possible date. 

Recognizing the potential financial impact of COVID-19 on homeowners, all conciliation fees will be waived until the end of the year.

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How will conciliation inspections, claim inspections and common element meetings be handled?

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, inspections and common element meetings using our virtual 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.

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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, if it is safe to do so, to enter the home to take a quick measurement or look at something in person, if necessary. If you have concerns about how your virtual inspection would be conducted, you can reach out to covid19@tarion.com.

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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 does not 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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Why has the conciliation fee for homeowners been waived until the end of the year?

We have waived the conciliation fees 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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Closings and Pre-Delivery Inspections

Will my closing be delayed?

If a new home is in the midst of construction at this time, it is very possible that the pandemic will cause delays in the delivery of the home. Under the unavoidable delay provisions of the Addendum (which forms part of the purchase agreement), the builder may be entitled to unilaterally extend critical dates. However, the builder must follow the rules set out in the Addendum to do so. To learn more about COVID-19 and delayed closings, click here.

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Am I entitled to claim delayed closing or delayed occupancy compensation because of the pandemic?

It depends.  The COVID-19 pandemic qualifies as an unavoidable delay event under the provisions of the Addendum. The builder may be entitled to extend timelines for delays caused by any applicable impacts upon the delivery of the home due to the pandemic. Builders must follow the rules in relation to such extensions. See Information Sheet for New Home Builders: COVID-19 Pandemic – Possible Effects on Construction Schedules for New Homes.

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What if my home was already delayed prior to the outbreak being declared?

If your home was delayed prior to the outbreak, your builder should still have followed the provisions of the Addendum with regard to providing proper notice. For questions about your specific home, please contact Customer Service at covid19@tarion.com.

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I have a payment due to my builder, but I was laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak (e.g., my company was not considered essential). Can I defer my payment?

Due to business closures and associated layoffs, we know that some purchasers may face difficulties in obtaining mortgage financing or in coming up with the funds necessary to meet deposit schedules or other payments that may be due according to the purchase agreement. Tarion doesn’t have the authority to compel builders to provide deferrals of payments. 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 to address any financial difficulties that a purchaser might be facing in completing their closing (e.g. extended payment terms, delayed closing). We would also suggest that you ask your lawyer to review your purchase agreement.

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My builder has advised me that even though my home is almost finished, I won’t be able to take possession when I was supposed to because they can’t get an occupancy permit due to the pandemic. I’ve already sold my current home and don’t want to wait – what can I do?

We understand that some new home buyers may be eager to close as they may have already sold their previous home and want to move in as soon as possible. In some jurisdictions there may be delays in completing onsite municipal inspections due to health concerns, which could affect the timing of an occupancy permit. As an occupancy permit is legally required before a purchaser can take possession, this may delay the closing. We encourage purchasers to talk to their builders to find out the type of delay they are facing and what impact it may have on the closing.

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I’m ready to take possession but I’m afraid to do the pre-delivery inspection (PDI) because of COVID-19. My builder says that they can do it without me. Are they allowed to do that? Will it affect my warranty coverage?

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 Government of Ontario.

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. It is our expectation that builders give homeowners an opportunity to 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 your warranty coverage. If you note an item on your 30-day form which is not on the PDI form, the item you note will still form part of your warranty claim. The fact that it was not listed on the PDI form 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 you to show that you 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 your 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 Government of Ontario.

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My builder says my closing will be going ahead in two weeks. But because of my health and the risk associated with COVID-19, I don’t want to move in. Do I have to close or can I tell my builder to move back the closing?

Closings are governed by the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and are a contractual matter between you and your builder. We would encourage you to discuss your concerns with your builder as they may be willing to delay the closing or find other ways to reassure you that the completed home is safe.

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