If you’re buying a new home, or already own one, there’s good news -- Tarion is making it easier to seek assistance under the new home warranty and protection program.
In response to the October 2019 report from the Auditor General of Ontario, Tarion has worked in a timely manner to make improvements based on the report’s recommendations.
To date, we have implemented 11 of the report’s 25 recommendations. Eight more are expected to be completed by the end of 2020. The remaining six will be completed in 2021.
Below are some of the updates and highlights that are either completed or are already well underway. Together, these improvements will help create a more transparent, fair and accountable new home warranty and protection program for Ontario’s new homeowners.
Interim Changes to the Customer Service Standard
Improving the Customer Service Standard was a key recommendation made by the Auditor General to help improve homeowners’ ability to seek assistance from Tarion. Tarion moved quickly in January of 2020 to seek public input on proposed interim measures to help address the recommendation in the short-term. Tarion hosted numerous roundtables with homeowners and other stakeholders and received over 100 written submission on proposed interim changes to the Customer Service Standard.
During the early COVID-19 outbreak, the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order that suspends certain limitation periods temporarily suspended all homeowner submission deadlines, including the 30-day deadlines. As a result, the implementation of the interim measures was delayed.
Now, as the Emergency Order is lifted and Tarion has reinstated all timelines, we have implemented these interim improvements to the Customer Service Standard.
Thanks to the valuable feedback we received, effective September 14, 2020, the following interim improvements to the Customer Service Standard are in effect:
- Increasing homeowners’ ability to access help from Tarion by adding 10-day grace periods to:
- The initial 30-day claim submission period
- The initial 30-day request for conciliation period
- The year-end claim submission period with written evidence that the homeowner reported items to their builder during the first year warranty period
- The year-end request for conciliation period
- Allowing homeowners to add additional items to forms during the 30-day and year-end claim submission periods
- Increasing the types of claims that can be addressed anytime in the first year by expanding the definition of emergency claims to include any water penetration claims.
Proposals for enhanced accountability
We’ve also made important changes to improve governance and transparency of our organization and to give homeowners confidence in the fairness of the warranty program.
- Strengthened corporate governance by protecting the New Home Ombudsperson’s independence, reducing executive compensation, and revising our corporate by-laws.
- Increased homeowner access to timely and cost-effective ways to appeal Tarion decisions including piloting an independent, third-party mediation program.
- Created greater transparency by publicly reporting on outstanding issues raised by the New Home Ombudsperson, and adding to the Ontario Builder Directory past convictions and information about exceptions to displaying the dollars in claims paid.
Helping home buyers feel confident in their purchase
Purchasing a new home does come with some risks but we have taken steps to help mitigate those risks, including:
- Enhanced consumer protection by eliminating the backlog of investigations into illegal building and homeowner complaints, establishing a new process to complete investigations in a timely manner, and increased Ontario Building Code training of staff.
- Stronger oversight of builders by ensuring past performance is considered, requiring better evidence of financial means to complete projects, and investigating all reasons leading to the cancellation of projects.
- Improved customer service by ensuring service targets are met, developing clear customer standards and enhancing quality assurance measures.
Earlier this year, Tarion also sought public input on additional consumer protection initiatives to improve service delivery and help build a more transparent, fair and accountable new home warranty and protection system:
- Establishing new rules and processes to help homeowners better understand the importance of the Pre-Delivery Inspection;
- Clarifying information on new home warranties and homeowners’ rights in the Homeowner Information Package;
- Changing the Customer Service Standard to improve homeowners’ ability to seek assistance from Tarion;
- Establishing new rules for the timely Tarion resolution of homeowners’ disputes with builders;
- Establishing a timely and cost-effective Tarion mediation process for homeowners;
- Requiring builders to provide Tarion with title information for high-risk proposed condominium construction projects and to disclose restrictions that could cause delay or cancellation of the project;
- Implementing a risk-based inspection process to proactively identify potential deficiencies during construction, including those related to the Ontario Building Code;
- Improving the Ontario Builder Directory to include additional information about builders;
- Increasing warranty compensation caps on claims related to environmentally harmful substances or hazards, septic systems and condominium common elements; and
- Providing compensation to homeowners in instances where they have to relocate while repairs to a warranted item are underway.
Tarion is in the process of analyzing and reviewing all feedback and we will continue to update homeowners every step of the way.
We are confident the changes we have made, and are currently implementing, will create a stronger new home warranty and protection program for all Ontarians. Read Tarion’s Implementation Plan to address the Auditor General’s recommendations here.
If you have any questions about your warranty, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.