March 19, 2014 · 12:06 am
By: Barbara Captijn
Regulatory agencies exist to protect the public, not the industry they are supposed to be protecting the public against.
Is Tarion Warranty Corporation doing its job of protecting new home buyers, or is it protecting the new home building industry?
Tarion is not subject to oversight from the Ombudsman of Ontario, nor from the Auditor General, nor do they have to disclose executive salaries on the Ontario Government’s “Sunshine List“. We’d like to trust, but we’d also like to verify. We cannot. There is no Ontario government legislation permitting any independent authority to investigate Tarion’s business practices. A recipe for trouble for consumers, and for their own employees if you read the “Open Letter to the Premier of Ontario” from concerned Tarion employees, dated March 31st , 2014, (published here under menu tab “Voices for Reform”).
If “sunshine is the best disinfectant”, there appears to be none here.
Have you ever suffered an automobile accident and awakened to find yourself in court opposite your own insurer opposing you? Probably not, or you’d have changed insurance companies.
But you can’t change insurance companies if you’ve purchased a new home and discover defects. You’re stuck with Tarion Warranty Corporation, the Ontario government’s authority entrusted with “protecting new home buyers“.
But who is Tarion protecting? Many homeowners have found Tarion was not there when they needed them. They found Tarion taking the side of the builder who caused the defects at the LAT (License Appeal Tribunal), the appeal court for Tarion warranty claims.
New home buyers are obligated to buy a Tarion warranty, in a fee passed on to us by their licensed builders. Tarion tells us they “guarantee” new homes against defects, and “protect new home buyers”. But many consumers have been left to repair defects on their own, and spend fortunes in court fighting not one adversary but two,Tarion and their builder. With in-house lawyers, and technical experts, Tarion has the deck of cards stacked in its favour. If Tarion takes the “its not warranted” route at the LAT with the builder as co-defendant, both can get off the hook, and the builder walks away with no mention of the defect on his record. What happened to justice and consumer protection?
March 7, 2014 · 5:58 pm
By: Barbara Captijn
In response to an article in The Toronto Star, March 7, 2014
The Premier’s calls for transparency are welcome. But she has yet to respond to consumer petitions, MPP’s Bills and Motions in the Legislature urging accountability and transparency at Tarion Warranty Corporation. “But Tarion doesn’t get taxpayer money” protest Tarion’s executives and Ministry policy wonks. But warranty fees are passed on to new home buyers, (unless you believe in the tooth fairy), by builders in the purchaser price. Further, Tarion has a monopoly in home warranties and builder licensing, administers consumer protection laws, and can lawyer itself up to fight homeowners who don’t have money for legal advice. The Ombudsman of Ontario and Auditor General have no authority over Tarion, and executive pay is not subject to the Sunshine List. But we’re being asked to believe Tarion and their builder-heavy board know what’s best for us. Because they say so.
December 23, 2013 · 5:50 pm
Re: “A Victory for Openness” | article in The Toronto Star, Dec. 23, 2013
Comment below submitted by Barbara Captijn as letter to the editor
Good news for openness and transparency from Attorney General Gerretsen regarding greater accessibility of court records. Finally a senior official following through on Premier Wynne’s much-repeated promise of a new era of openness and transparency in government. But this should not be limited to criminal records: it should apply to civil court proceedings as well. Perhaps it’s time for the Minister of Consumer Services, Minister MacCharles, to follow through on her promise to Ontarians (July 8, 2013 in The Star) of greater transparency in builder records for the home-buying public. Regardless of who “won” these cases, all Ontario License Appeal Tribunal proceedings should be listed on Tarion Warranty Corporation’s on-line “Licensed Builder Directory”. For Tarion to continue to keep this information absent from builder’s records is not telling the full story, and seems at odds with Attorney General Gerretson’s statement: “The public has a right to know what’s going on in our court system.” The Star has it right: “The public’s right to know is entrenched in our legal system.” Time to show the full picture on incomplete or shoddy new home building.
October 17, 2013 · 11:15 pm
Re: “Put Justice within Reach”, Editorial Oct. 12 | The Toronto Star
Letter to the Editor by Barbara Captijn
Published in The Toronto Star Oct. 17, 2013, and on www.thestar.com
“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers,” wrote Shakespeare in Henry V1, written in 1591 — a cry out against the perceived trickery in the legal system that seems to work against the average person. Hard to believe that in 2013 we are still trying to make the justice system serve the needs of everyday people in everyday life.
Help may be on the way. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Beverley McLachlin, has thankfully initiated a study that could bring about much-needed reform. The report, “A Roadmap for Change,” advocates more problem-solving, and putting the needs of the public first.
The choice to self-represent is usually out of financial necessity: a settlement of $15,000 is little use to anyone if it’s wiped out by legal costs of $10,000. But to self-represent is a “lose-lose” proposition for everyone — individuals, our communities and the taxpayer. It over-burdens our already sclerotic system, and causes extreme stress and financial hardship to individuals and families.
Continue reading →
August 8, 2013 · 3:09 pm
By: Barbara Captijn
Re: “Warranty system slanted” (Aug. 7, 2012, Belleville Intelligencer newspaper) |
Thursday’s Letter to the Editor
Published on www.intelligencer.ca | Belleville Intelligencer
Colin McKay’s article is an accurate and complete overview of the serious systemic problems at Tarion Warranty Corporation.
It defies common sense that our government has a hands-off policy in their “oversight” role of Tarion. It defies common sense that Tarion has their builder-dominated board speak for the interests of consumers.
And it flies in the face of any “equitable principles” of law that Tarion can make unlimited use of the warranty fund to fight its own self-represented homeowners/stakeholders in court over claims for new home defects.
We rely on our free press, such as this article by The Intelligencer, to expose another abuse of the public trust. The fox has been given responsibility for guarding the chicken coop.