Originally published in the Toronto Sun on August 12, 2017.
For years now, transforming non-residential buildings into residential condominiums has fulfilled two very important objectives — while it has helped to preserve precious elements of our architectural past, it has also provided much needed living space for our growing towns and cities.
It’s the proverbial win-win situation. But there’s another consideration that has been missing from the condominium conversion equation. Consumer protection.
Those choosing to live in truly unique converted living spaces — a charming old church or a factory building from a different time altogether — have not benefitted from the mandatory warranty coverage that comes with almost every other brand new home and condominium unit in Ontario.
The good news is that this will soon change.
Since the passing of the Protecting Condominium Owners Act last year, Tarion has been working with the provincial government to extend warranty coverage to certain residential condominium conversion projects.
We held a public consultation earlier this year where we gave the public an opportunity to weigh in on this new initiative. Based on the feedback received, we developed a revised draft of a bulletin titled Residential Condominium Conversion Projects and draft new regulations that outline the process and coverage for this type of construction.
Both of these documents are now available for review on our website, Tarion.com.
Here are a few of the key items in our plan. To begin with, only converted buildings that were previously used for non-residential purposes would be covered. This means that rental apartment buildings that are converted to condominiums would still be excluded from warranty coverage. Part of the reason for this decision is the need to protect the availability of rental buildings in urban centres across the province.
You might be curious about what kind of new home warranty coverage would apply to a residential condominium conversion project. The answer is that all of the warranties in the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act would apply with one exception — the one-year warranties that a home is constructed in a workmanlike manner and is free from defects in materials would not apply to the pre-existing elements of the project.
All of the other one-year warranties would apply to the pre-existing elements, including compliance with the Ontario Building Code.
After the first year, warranty coverage for both pre-existing and new elements would be identical to that of brand new homes. This means a two-year warranty for water penetration and defects in electrical, plumbing and heating delivery and distribution systems, and a seven-year warranty for major structural defects.
Finally, vendors and builders of residential condominium conversion projects would now have to register with Tarion and enrol their projects in the warranty plan. This will ensure that they have the educational, technical and financial competence to build, sell and provide aftersales warranty service.
Extending warranty coverage to residential condominium conversions will enhance Ontario’s warranty protections for new condominium buyers.
We encourage anyone who is interested in this initiative to review and comment on the proposed bulletin and regulation, which can be found in the Public Consultations section of Tarion’s website, Tarion.com.
We welcome your written submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org until September 11, 2017.