In January, 2014, the City of Toronto published a “Condominium Consultation Report”, after a year of public consultations with stakeholders on improving various aspects of the city’s condo living.
36 recomendations were made. Item 26 concerns Tarion Warranty Corporation under the heading “Construction Quality”.
Consumers have been telling Tarion for years the warranty provides inadequate protection for new home buyers. Not just condo buyers, but purchasers of newly built freehold homes as well. Tarion, whose slogan is “protecting new home buyers,” often ends up protecting builders.
Builders have their own powerful, politically well-connected groups to protect their interests. Consumers are supposed to have Tarion.
The consumer stakeholders who were consulted for this Condo Consultation report gave clear signals the current system is not working. Below are some of their comments:
Re: Qu. 27 – Building Quality:
# 78: “There are no laws to protect condo owners and please don’t tell me there is Tarion. That was the most useless organization…”
#8 – “..Tarion offered no help, in fact it was helping the developer by refusing to pull his license for such shabby quality and his refusal to fix it…”
#107 – “Tarion is in the hands of the developers/builders, as of now is useless”.
#120 – “The TARION process is also a joke as it provides home buyers a false sense of protection.”
#22 -“Tarion warranty is not trustworthy. Need a public and independently-run governing body for building code and minimum acceptable quality.”
#45 – “Tarion needs to hold developers to account without condo corporation incurring incredibly huge legal fees with still no resolution.”
#48 – “Developers should not be self-governed/regulated when it comes to inspections and follow-ups, Tarion is a perfect example of how developers in this province have carte blanche and consumers have no rights. Tarion is a joke! “
#70 – Reshape Tarion’s Board of Directors, more Directors from the public should be on the board. City inspection is a rubber-stamping in respect of inspection.”
#77 – “Should be more rigorous enforcement than Tarion – developers need to be held more accountable.”
# 95 – “Tarion warranty system is useless – Had to settle with builder for next to nothing.”
#8 – (pg. 24) “Tarion is biased and is in the pocket of the developers.”
#28 – “There is a significant conflict of interest with a privately-run new home warranty program by Tarion. They operate with builders and allowing them to do minimum rather than striving for the best… Warranty guidelines should be drafted and enforced by a government body, not a private company.”
……………… (end of comments)
The report states that construction defects were frequently raised in the discussions. Recommendation #26 of the report states:
“Encourage Tarion to publish and communicate common construction defects being claimed under warranty.”
The report goes on to describe the Tarion warranty claims process as “onerous, takes a long time, and is sometimes not well managed (…) leaving condo residents without adequate protection. The process is also adversarial, sometimes creating hostility between condo corporations and builders (…) Participants desired additional disclosure of building defects (…) Rather than develop an approach that relies on the end-user to do the research….
Consumer groups have been voicing these concerns for years. Even Tarion’s own employees voiced these concerns in a letter to the Premier (31/03/2014). Various Ministers of Consumer Services as well as Premiers Wynne and McGuinty have all been made fully aware of these problems over the past years. All have turned a blind eye to repeated calls for transparency and accountability of this monopoly. The new Minister of Consumer Services has told consumers he won’t support Bill 60, the “Tarion Accountability and Oversight Bill“. Yet he says he’s all for accountability and transparency. So is Premier Wynne, at least so she keeps telling us. But somehow these principles don’t ever seem to apply to Tarion.
Instead of telling us what they won’t do, we’d like to hear what they will do to solve these problems which have grown and festered under the Liberal government.
The City of Toronto Condominium Consultation Report is a small step in the right direction, and many of its recommendations should include buyers of new freehold homes as well.
There must be a better way to resolve new home construction defects in a a timely and cost-efficient way. Not every problem requires a courtroom. The current system creates an absurd situation where the insurer ends up fighting his own client. Homeowners lose, the taxpayer loses, our communities lose.
Consumer complaints about Tarion are serious, varied, and long-standing. This Condominium Consultation shows that. Its time to stop blaming the victim.
According to Tarion, its only critics are a fringe group of whiners who at the end of the day, wouldn’t be happy with Buckingham Palace. This report certainly dispels that fiction.
Most consumers just want their new home to be free of construction defects, and to see the person responsible for defects made accountable for them.
Click here to view the City of Toronto Condominium Consultation Report.