Ombudsman calls for clarity on new home warranty program
Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today called on the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to clarify its relationship with Tarion Warranty Corp. in its communications with new homeowners and the general public.
TORONTO (June 3, 2008) – Ontario Ombudsman André Marin today called on the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to clarify its relationship with Tarion Warranty Corp. in its communications with new homeowners and the general public.
Homeowners who have problems with Tarion over construction defects, repairs and other items that the warranty program is meant to cover are often confused and disappointed when they find out that the “consumer services” ministry won’t intervene in their individual cases, Mr. Marin says in his 16-page report, Building Clarity, released today.
The Ombudsman received more than 100 complaints from homeowners about their dealings with Tarion and the Ministry, but because it is not a government agency, the Ombudsman has no jurisdiction to investigate Tarion itself. For this reason, the Ombudsman’s investigation instead focused on the narrow issue of how the Ministry represents its relationship with Tarion to the public – and found its actions lacking.
“Hundreds of thousands of Ontarians are affected each year by the [warranty] plan,” Mr. Marin says. “Consumers should not have to wait until they are at the end of the line after years of battling with builders and Tarion to learn that what they believed was their last resort is not available to them.”
The report notes that Minister Ted McMeekin recently wrote to the outgoing head of Tarion, stressing the need for improvements to its governance, transparency and responsiveness to consumers. The Ombudsman’s own inquiries with Tarion left the impression that it “is not strongly motivated by a sense of urgency regarding improving its practices,” Mr. Marin says. The Ministry has agreed to work with the Ombudsman to improve its communications with homeowners within 30 days.
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