New homes in Ontario are covered under the builder’s warranty and in most instances, builders work directly with homeowners to address warranted items. As the backstop to the builder’s warranty, Tarion is here to help homeowners when a builder may be unable or unwilling to fulfil their warranty obligations. But what happens if you disagree with one or more of Tarion’s assessments on an issue in your new home?
The first thing you need to know is that Tarion is open to working with you to resolve the situation. For example, we will consider any additional information you may provide to see if it changes our initial warranty assessment. We may also agree to conduct a further investigation into an item in dispute.
But what if you still don’t agree?
Until recently, the next level of recourse was to ask for a decision letter that would allow you to appeal Tarion’s warranty assessment to the province’s Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT). As of July 2021, homeowners who disagree with a warranty assessment now have another option: independent mediation.
Independent mediation may be a better choice if you prefer a more informal and collaborative method of resolving your dispute. It can also save you time, money and the stress associated with formal legal proceedings. So how does it work?
How to request independent mediation
You can submit a request for mediation to Tarion after you have received a Warranty Assessment Report. Simply let your Tarion representative know that you disagree with one or more of our assessments and wish to use independent mediation to try to resolve the situation.
Next, you and Tarion will agree on a mediator. When it comes to choosing a mediator, you can either select one from our list of qualified mediators or find one on your own (professional associations such as the Alternative Dispute Resolution Institute of Ontario can help).
As far as cost goes, Tarion’s aim is to cover the entire cost of mediation so that you don’t have to pay anything. Our standard allowance is up to $1,500 towards each half day of mediation and up to $3,000 towards each full day of mediation. Note that if you decide to go with a mediator who charges more than these rates, you are responsible for the additional cost.
What happens during mediation?
Your mediation will be scheduled at a mutually agreeable date and time. Mediations are normally scheduled for a half day or full day (depending on the complexity of the situation) and can be conducted in a variety of different formats, including (but not limited to) in person, teleconference and videoconference.
The mediation will involve you, Tarion and the mediator. You may choose to bring a support person with you, but keep in mind that it is not necessary for lawyers to be involved. And since your disagreement is over a Tarion warranty assessment, your builder will not participate unless both you and Tarion agree to invite them.
The mediator will typically kick things off by explaining the process. After this, you and the Tarion representative will be given a chance to meet separately with the mediator to explain the situation and how you would like it resolved.
Throughout the mediation, the mediator’s role is to help you and Tarion reach an agreement. The mediator does not act as a judge and will not be making any final decisions on your warranty claim.
The important thing to note here is that a mediation does not necessarily mean the end of your dispute. If you and Tarion do not resolve your claim at mediation and you wish to continue to dispute Tarion’s assessment, you still have the option to take your appeal to the LAT (see above). To initiate this process, ask Tarion for a formal decision letter regarding your claim.
Visit our page on alternative methods for resolving claims to find more information on Independent Mediation.