A guest article by Jill Moriarty, Ontario’s New Home Ombuds
If you’re buying a new home in Ontario, not only will you benefit from the warranties guaranteed by the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, but you also have access to an Ombuds office dedicated to ensuring you get treated fairly by Tarion.
Although we are here as a resource for the thousands who buy new homes every year, there are many homeowners who aren’t familiar with who we are and what we do. Here are a few interesting facts to enlighten you:
1. We’ve been around for a long time.
Our office was formed in 2008 as part of the Administrative Agreement between Tarion and the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. Since then, we’ve fielded over 4,000 inquiries and complaints from homeowners and initiated numerous changes that have improved new home buyers’ experience.
Anyone who has purchased a newly-built home in the past 14 years has either directly or indirectly felt our impact.
2. We focus on fairness
It’s all we do. Our job is to promote and protect fairness at Tarion. We monitor three aspects of fairness as it relates to homeowners: procedural, substantive and relational.
- Procedural fairness refers to how the decision was made. For instance, making sure that reports were issued in a timely manner and that homeowners received all the information they needed to make an informed choice about a cash settlement offer.
- Substantive fairness refers to the decision itself, whether Tarion had the authority to make the decision and whether there were errors in fact or policy.
- Relational fairness refers to how the homeowner was treated, whether communication was timely and clear and whether they were treated with respect.
The Ombuds staff is steeped in and committed to the principle of fairness.
3. We have A LOT of experience.
Our office consists of four very dedicated individuals with a tremendous amount of expertise. All hold, or are completing, certificates in Mediation and we have a total of 40 years experience in conflict resolution and complaint handling.
So, homeowners can be assured that we understand disputes and can provide excellent advice on best next steps to get them resolved.
4. We don’t just act on complaints.
While our primary purpose is to assist those who feel they have not been treated fairly by Tarion, our job certainly doesn’t end there. We also play a proactive role by helping to prevent disputes before they happen.
We talk homeowners through the warranty process, help them to figure out their next steps and coach them on how to frame their concerns in ways that make it easier for Tarion to help them.
5. We make a real impact.
Every year, we publish an annual report that includes recommendations we’ve made for changes at Tarion that are designed to improve fairness for homeowners. These recommendations can relate to policies, processes, services and more.
In the 14 years since the office has been in existence, Tarion has accepted and implemented over 400 recommendations from us. This has resulted not only in fairness remedies for individual homeowners, but also in changes that have corrected systemic fairness issues for all homeowners.
We look forward to hearing from you.