Dear Ms. L. Lamoureux,
Executive Chair, Safety, Licensing Appeals, and Standards Tribunals Ontario (SLASTO)
Many consumers wonder why you continue to believe the License Appeal Tribunal (LAT) is a proper forum for homeowners to appeal Tarion warranty decisions.
You know the probability of failure for consumers at the LAT is 83-96%. (CPBH research 2007-2013).
You know consumers cannot afford lawyers for even a 2-day hearing, at approx. $2,000 – 3,600 per day, plus time off work.
You know the LAT is a highly legalistic forum, and procedure-driven. Only skilled litigation lawyers know their way around this courtroom.
You know the burden of proof is high on self-represented parties to prove a defect in a home they did not build, and to contest a “decision letter” written by the large corporate defendant, Tarion.
You know the LAT is a two-on-one for consumers, where they’re pitted against two lawyers, Tarion’s and the builder’s, both using procedure and tricky cross-examination tactics to get claims dismissed.
You know Tarion hires top litigation experts, in addition to their in-house lawyers, to fight consumers at the LAT.
You know the Assistant Deputy Minister of Consumer Services recently stated the LAT processes are: “not transparent, complicated, time-consuming, costly, and unbalanced“. (Letter to Tarion CEO, 07/10/14)
You know consumers cannot afford technical experts they need to prove their cases, and that many experts will not testify against future job-providers such as Tarion and builders.
You know the LAT website is UN-consumer-friendly, by your own admission, (09/12/14).
You have acknowledged LAT Chairs have little or no training in dealing with self-represented parties.
You are aware Tarion’s annual revenues are approx. $33 million, it pays salaries/benefits of $24 million, administrative costs of $9 million, yet paid out only $3.5 million in claims. (2013 Annual Report). You know Tarion is a monopoly with a “consumer protection” mandate, and has the responsibility to regulate and license builders. Tarion has the resources to provide mediation or other problem-solving options to consumers without recourse to a courtroom. Yet the LAT continues to be the appeal mechanism for Tarion’s decisions, with Tarion/builders winning 83-96% of the cases, at the taxpayer’s expense. Many consumers feel new home defects should be kept firmly on the plate of the person who “owns the problem” and has the resources to solve them -Tarion.
Why is a courtroom being used at all in these cases? Why is the alarmingly high rate of failure for consumers not raising red flags at SLASTO? – or the LAT?
You’ve said (22/01/15) that you intend to “improve the service experience” at the LAT, manage “expectations” of homeowners, “improve processes“, provide “enhanced training and education” for adjudicators.
With respect, Ms.Lamoureux, in the light of all the above information you have, this seems like re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.