The Government of Ontario recently introduced the Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, 2019 to strengthen consumer protection and promote trust and confidence for the people of Ontario. This proposed legislation will amend various statutes in respect of consumer protection. Some of the provisions in the proposed legislation are directed at protecting condominium buyers and owners. In addition to the proposed legislation, the Government of Ontario is also undertaking other measures that will impact condominiums.
Effective January 1, 2020, 17 frequently-used forms under the Condominium Act, 1998 will be found on the website of the Condominium Authority of Ontario (”CAO”) so that these forms can be more easily accessed. Additional forms will be available on July 1, 2020.
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services will soon be consulting with the public on expanding the scope of disputes that can be heard by the CAO. Currently only disputes relating to records can be adjudicated at the CAO.
The Ministry will also be undertaking consultations in 2020 to seek stakeholder input on changes related to:
- Changing the amount of interest that would be owed to a purchaser who makes deposits and other payments on the purchase of a pre-construction condo unit if the project is canceled.
- Requiring the CAO to develop a condo guide for buyers and require developers to provide it at the point of purchase.
- Establishing guidelines or standards that will govern how condo corporations are to procure goods and services.
- Clarifying how interim occupancy fees are handled by developers.
- Establishing a process whereby condo corporations could add charges to an owner’s common expenses under certain circumstances.
- Clarifying how contributions are made to reserve funds, the manner in which they can be used and how reserve fund studies can be conducted; and
- Clarifying the processes for mediation and arbitration between corporations and owners.
As part of the Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, major changes will be made to the Tarion Warranty Corporation and the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act to address concerns raised in the Auditor General’s report which was recently released. (Click here to read our previous blog post about the Auditor General’s report criticizing Tarion and the home warranty program.) The proposed changes will reduce the influence of builders in the administration of the warranty program and will be more responsive to the needs of home buyers. There are no plans to proceed with a multi-provider insurance model as enhancements will be made to the current single-insurer model to best protect the interests of consumers and to create more transparency and accountability.
In addition to the initiatives proposed as part of the Rebuilding Consumer Confidence Act, proposed regulatory changes under the Technical Standards and Safety Act, 2000 aim to address elevator safety and availability issues and compliance with elevator laws. (Click here to read our previous blog posts on elevator safety and reliability.) Proposed regulatory changes include:
- Enabling the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (“TSSA”) to impose administrative monetary penalties for non-compliance with elevator laws.
- Requiring elevator outage data to be reported to the TSSA and requiring the TSSA to make this data publicly available online for easy access.
Regulations to implement the proposed changes are to be developed in 2020. The Government plans to consult with and obtain public feedback on the proposed changes in May, 2020.
Once all of these changes have been implemented there will be more rights and protections for home buyers and home owners who have frequently felt helpless when dealing with the issues that these changes are intended to address.