Why “re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?”…Open letter to Ms. Lamoureux, Exec. Chair of “SLASTO”

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.

 

 

 

 

1 Comment

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One response to “Why “re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic?”…Open letter to Ms. Lamoureux, Exec. Chair of “SLASTO”

  1. Jeffrey Ferland

    Thank you again Ms. Captijn for this insightful contribution to the discussion of not only why Tarion needs to be held accountable but solutions to how! Your comment that Tarion has the resources to provide other problem solving options is very true.

    Tarion lets the government and essentially taxpayers pay the bill for their dispute resolution process yet they sit on a mountain of mandatory fees collected from Homeowner over the years. In 2013 Tarion had Eight Hundred and Sixty One Million Dollars, Three Hundred and Thirteen Thousand Dollars ($861 313 000.00) to purchase Investments! Tarion however has invested Zero Dollars ($0.00) to provide a fair, effective, timely and accessible dispute resolution process for Homeowners since their inception almost 40 years ago. http://www.tarion.com/AnnualReport/2013/statements.html#4

    One dispute resolution option Tarion could fund and make available to Homeowners would be arbitration. Not coincidently this is an option made available to Builders disputing one of Tarion’s decisions. But why would Tarion make this option available to Homeowners when the odds are so clearly stacked in their favour at the LAT!

    Arbitration
    The submission of a dispute to an unbiased third person designated by the parties to the controversy, who agree in advance to comply with the award—a decision to be issued after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard.
    Arbitration is a well-established and widely used means to end disputes. It is one of several kinds of Alternative Dispute Resolution, which provide parties to a controversy with a choice other than litigation. Unlike litigation, arbitration takes place out of court: the two sides select an impartial third party, known as an arbitrator; agree in advance to comply with the arbitrator’s award; and then participate in a hearing at which both sides can present evidence and testimony. The arbitrator’s decision is usually final, and courts rarely reexamine it.
    http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/arbitration

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