Why I Continue to Fight for Consumers – for Reforms to Tarion

Why do I continue to fight for consumer reforms to Tarion Warranty Corporation? I don’t like to stand by and watch innocent people suffer. It’s that simple. The words of Harper Lee in the novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” remain in my mind: “You never really know a man until you understand things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”.

In the hope that someone in the Ontario government might read this, and might have some empathy, here are a few stories from consumers who’ve been fighting to get their newly-built homes fixed. We are promised under Ontario law homes will be built “free of defects in workmanship and materials”; we are promised Tarion will regulate the industry, and publish a record of  shoddy building practices.

Here are a few snapshots of the misery consumers have been living through, trying to get their new homes fixed: (edited for length, style; names withheld for privacy)

“I have been struggling for 20 months with our builder to fix many items on our deficiency list, then struggling with Tarion to get the warranty enforced we’re  forced to buy under Ontario law. What they cannot repair is the emotional struggle and the time away from the most important thing to me in this world,  to be a good Mom and raise my young family.  I wanted our time in our new home to be filled with happy memories. It saddens me my young boys have to see me struggle with these home defects. Fighting big corporations and their lawyers is emotionally and mentally debilitating. It’s corporate abuse of power, and the victims are families like mine you rarely hear about.” …. New home buyer, Barrie area

…………………..

“I lived through our home deficiencies while my world fell apart. My Mom had leukemia, she lived next door with the same furnace which was defective. My husband’s father passed away, as did our elderly grandparents. Meanwhile Tarion continued to fight us with their hard lawyer-ing. It caused us so much stress that our dreams of starting a family in our new home were eaten up by this ordeal. No one can give me those years back.”  …New home buyer, Oakville

………………………

My husband and I have spent over 2 years now trying to get our new home fixed through Tarion. They’ve fought us at the License Appeal Tribunal for over 18 months, using their in-house counsel, top outside litigators, as well as joining forces with the builder’s lawyer. We are self-represented. Legal assistance for this specialized area of the law would have cost us over $2,000 per day.  Tarion uses the warranty fund to fight consumers, and uses expert witnesses to say black is blue, and attack our credibility, which was shocking to us.  I was hoping to spend time with our new-born baby, my demanding career, my husband and our family, but our days and sleepless nights have been taken up with fighting a huge litigious corporation in a courtroom. Still coming back each day to a new home with serious construction defects.”  …Young couple, Mississauga

………………………

For 5 years, this new home disaster consumed our lives. From roof to foundation our new home was riddled with construction  defects which we discovered bit by bit as we lived in the house. It was particularly miserable to live there with inadequate heating in the winter. We begged everyone to help us – from the builder, to Tarion, to the municipality, to the Premier of Ontario, to the Prime Minister of Canada. No one helped us. It was shocking to us as Canadians that we could find ourselves in this situation. I lost business revenue of $300,000+, and we paid over $400,000 to get ourselves out of this mess. During this stressful period I fell ill to cancer. We lost five years of our lives because of that hell house.” …New home buyer, Ontario

……………………

This is sadly only the tip of the iceberg of disturbing stories which continue to plague innocent and hard-working new home buyers. Many suffered health issues and marital break-ups due to the constant stress of living in a defective home and the hopelessness and fear which comes with fighting large corporations with lots of money, time, and aggressive lawyers. The adversarial approach is clearly not working for the consumer, the most vulnerable party, the ones the warranty was created to protect in the first place. This problem screams lack of government oversight and accountability. The Ontario government gave a monopoly to Tarion and the right to levy an indirect tax on each new home buyer, promising them “new home buyer protection” and “regulation of the building industry”.

This is a political problem. The government created it, the government must fix it. Does this government have the political will to stand up to its most affluent donors – the building and construction industry, the largest donors to Provincial re-election campaigns?  If it continues to do nothing more than a bit of window-dressing and shoot the messenger, there will be no deterrent to shoddy building: marginal builders will continue to walk away scot free, and ordinary consumers will continue to pay, both emotionally and financially, for someone else’s wrong-doing.

Doesn’t anyone in the Liberal government see the absurdity and injustice of what’s going on here for years? Isn’t there anyone out there with empathy, who’s notworking with Tarion“?

Madam Premier, and Liberal members of the Provincial Legislature: consumers who’ve suffered this misery can perhaps suggest a builder for your next new home.  Until you walk a mile in these shoes…

4 Comments

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4 responses to “Why I Continue to Fight for Consumers – for Reforms to Tarion

  1. Ms. Captijn thank you for emphasizing this important cost of the lack of accountability with Tarion. The cost to people and to families.

  2. nicole lalonde

    does this not speak for itself
    Published on 29 March , 2012
    Ewan and Jason

    I needed to let you know how totally disappointed, dismayed and angered I am by your services, your company ‘s overall lack of professionalism and “ matter of fact “ attitude, where our building project was and is concerned.
    My dismay lies not mainly with all the deficiencies we have encountered with this house but mostly with you and your son general manager ‘s totally uncooperative attitude , your unscrupulous refusal to accept and acknowledge your errors, omissions and as far as I am concerned, your unpardonable negligence, and lack of standard attention to the building process while it was underway, ( let alone your worst attitude in not taking immediate remedial activity once deficiencies were discovered and confirmed by us, home inspectors and industry experts including CFRA Saturday morning reno broadcast whom we consulted in in the process ) .

    The process of working through deficiencies and faults is not an easy one for either side .

    On our side, we have put hours of research , calls and monies to ascertain our conclusions were founded. So when the process of rectifying building processes that ESL Construction has assumed responsibility for by signing a contract with us, is coupled with unwillingness, pigheadedness, deceit, lies and delaying tactics by the one who is responsible , you tell me where lie the grounds for patience , tolerance and leniency.

    We have a long list of faulty items , only some of which we called you or / and your contractors about in the 18 months this house has been so called “ ready for occupancy “ such as faulty bathroom door lock, peeling paint on window sills, leaking shower tile leading to yet more water in the basement, plumbing problems, defective hot water mechanism , etc, etc with more than one occurrence over the course of the said period., not to mention the one month delay in the original house completion date promised. We tried to work with you in spite of your inadequacies.

    We were patient and Andy is patient to the brink of being a procrastinator.

    However, when major problems surface and in spite of them, such as no taped seams on insulation where the contract plainly and clearly states it, water infiltration, falling siding and these, over the course of many months , you
    a) refuse to acknowledge the lacks
    b) refuse to cater to these unjustfied deficiencies in a way that will attempt to restore the status of “ new house “ for us
    c )forge delays in the repair process ,
    d) lie and you know very well which instances I refer to ,
    e ) make every attempt to deny your responsibility in these matters
    f) totally ignore and avoid us in the repair communication process.

    In spite of all the aggravation, worry, waste of time, costs involved in two home inspections including the loss of landscape bushes trampled by your contractors, the perspective of spending our entire summer behind tarps , the still to be encountered general inconvenience of repair and abuse , we would have been quite satisfied had you readily agreed to repair these problems without all of the machinations that you created. You did it to yourselves.

    You will remain in my eyes, an operator that revels in almost criminal activity and will never gain a good word from me .

    At this point, the neighborhood , at a minumum , is aware; all have inquired about “ what is happening and why the tarps “ They were privy to the number of “after construction “ visits by ESL vehicles on the property They are getting the full story from me , you can bet on it, without any attempt at euphemism to minimize truths, starting from December 2009 to date including the ridiculous comments that falling siding is due to high wind velocity in the area. Evidently Canexel might argue the ridiculously lame comment as our neighbors do .

    It is doubtful , given the irrefutable evidence, anyone in this area would be tempted to call on ESL Construction services. Our visiting friends have been on-site witnesses to some of the episodes described when they happened. No one believes this is still going on. Tarion is there to protect the builder . Deadlines are lax and accommodate the builder. It is obvious that any response from the builder satisfies Tarion.

    I will talk about this experience and recount it true to fact and to the letter . ESL CONSTRUCTION , experts at caulking and deceit, and unfortunately Jason will be left with quite a “ client service “legacy. No advertising works as well as “ word of mouth “ and “ standing evidence “.

    You have been paid, always before the due date and always with personal , home delivery service . You have not delivered the product promised and knowingly continue to deceive and refuse to deliver . And you are asking us to accept your less than adequate options so that you can go without further financial commitment and involvement ?

    I have totally lost respect, and you must know this . We have given you ample and too much opportunity

    Nicole Lalonde

  3. Daniel Emery

    Barbara, excellent, concise and factual. I lost my home to foreclosure, because Tarion and or their member builder refused to rectify outstanding Ontario Building Code violations. Tarion and or their member builder even refused to rectify “dumb” issues like light switches turning on lights in different rooms. 4-6 inches of standing water in basement for over 4 years, black slimy mold dripping down the walls, were not addressed by Tarion. Four years of denying mandated coverage, in some cases, blaming me for the issues. All of those issues, negated the issuance of my Final Occupancy Permit to legally inhabit my home. Four years of that, the bank had no choice but to foreclose. Three more years of asking for mandated compensatory relief, via Sec. 14 of the Ontario New Home Warranty Protection Act, for the loss of my home has also fallen on deaf ears. Tarion in house legal counsel, Tim Schumacher says I don’t meet the 3 things to receive this compensation. He says “Your home was NOT a contract home” Strange, I have a contract with the builder to construct.. “You did not own the lands PRIOR to construction”. Strange, I owned the lot for NINE months prior to construction start date. Lastly, “The difference from what you received is not greater than what you you paid”. Strange, I paid over $250K in full before the builder would hand over the keys to my nightmare. At the time, the home needed approximately $50K in work, to secure the Final Occupancy Permit. Tarion is an ungoverned juggernaut, who make the rules, change the rules, and ultimately destroy peoples lives and dreams, fighting home owners every inch of the way. August 7 2015, Toronto Sun article, CEO Howard Bogach says, he was asked this question at the Annual Tarion Public meeting: Does Tarion protect the builder or the home owner? Mr. Bogach replied “The answer is simple. Tarion is a consumer protection organization”. I, as well as thousands of other Ontarians who have been left twisting in the wind, lives, hopes and dreams shattered by YOUR Corporation know this is an outright lie. You, Mr. Bogach, as CEO have zero integrity with many home owners.. Rome is burning, Mr. Bogach, yet you continue to play your fiddle.. Daniel Emery

    • nicole lalonde

      Daniel Emery …it would be difficult to top your story where Tarion’s consumer abuse is self evident …we have not even yet broached the subject of LAT and Tarion disgusting dishonest handling of our case The least we can do and the most humane gesture left to us is alert the public and those who are about to embark upon one of if not THE largest investment of a lifetime … knowledge is power and buyer beware is certainly of the essence. We also spoke with the illustrious Mr Bogach !…more to come …

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