Case Stories

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    Courtesy or Warranty?

    Mr. P reached out to the Ombudsperson Office with complaints about his Warranty Assessment Report and the Warranty Services Representative who conducted the inspection. Mr. P stated that there were items which the builder had determined to be faulty and which he had agreed to repair.  However, at the inspection, these items were assessed to be not warranted.  Mr. P. believed that this demonstrated incompetence on the part of the Warranty Services Representative.   The Ombudsperson Office reviewed the file and determined that the Warranty Services Representative had inspected all items using the existing standards of Tarion’s Construction Performance Guidelines and the Ontario Building Code. The assessment process was found to be fair.   The Office advised Mr. P that the job of the Warranty Service Representative is to determine whether or not items listed on the statutory form are covered under the warranty, as outlined in the Ontario Home Warranties Plan Act.   The builder may be willing to repair items that are determined to be not warranted as a goodwill gesture to customers.  This happens frequently and is separate from Tarion’s assessment of warrantability.  The fact that the builder is willing to repair a non-warranted item does not mean that the Warranty Services Representative has made an error or displayed poor judgement.  

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    Waiting for an Urgent Inspection

    On June 27th, Mr. B called Tarion’s Customer Service line about heavy water penetration from the roof that was damaging the ceiling of his 3-year-old home.   He had already submitted a Major Structural Defect form, but was concerned because the water was leaking through the ceiling light fixture, which Mr. B believed to be a safety issue that needed to be addressed immediately.  He had an independent contractor willing to repair the roof right away and he wanted to know whether he could have the repairs done and invoice Tarion. Customer service put Mr. B through to the Technical Desk in order to determine whether the situation was an emergency. He reached the Technical Desk representative the following day, only to be told that the water penetration was a two-year issue and would not be covered under the remaining warranty.  When Mr. B requested this response in writing, he was told that this would not be possible.  In frustration, he contacted the Ombudsperson Office to request help. Our Office reviewed the file and as a result the file was escalated to the Manager of the Technical Desk and the Director of Customer Service.  This led to an Investigative Inspection being booked the same day.  This allowed Tarion to review the situation immediately to determine whether it would be covered under the warranty.

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    Phone Tag Fairness

    Ms. K contacted the Ombudsperson to indicate she was worried that her request for a conciliation inspection had not been received by Tarion.  Ms. K was aware of her responsibilities to request the inspection within a set timeframe and knew that failure to do so could result in her losing the opportunity to have her 30-Day items assessed for warrantability.   Ms. K informed the Ombudsperson Office that she had called Tarion to schedule the inspection two weeks prior to the deadline. The call was not picked up and she left a voicemail message at that time, but did not receive a call back from Tarion. One day before the deadline to request the conciliation was reached, Ms. K again called Tarion to determine whether her voicemail had been received. She was informed that no inspection had been scheduled as yet, but that she could still request the inspection online or over the phone. She elected to do so over the phone and was transferred to the scheduling department at Tarion.  Again, the call was not picked up and Ms. K left a voicemail.  When Ms. K contacted the Ombudsperson Office, the deadline to request the conciliation had passed and she still had not received confirmation from Tarion that her inspection had been booked.   The Office contacted the Customer Service Department on Ms. K’s behalf and learned that Tarion did attempt to return her original message but that her request for a conciliation inspection had never been confirmed by Tarion.  The Customer Service Department determined that, based on their records, it was clear that Ms. K had attempted to make the request within the given timelines.  Therefore, they agreed to accept the request for inspection although the deadline had passed.  The Ombudsperson Office stayed in contact with Ms. K and Customer Service until it was confirmed that the conciliation inspection had been scheduled.   

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    Keeping Second Owners in the Loop

    Tarion’s Homeowner Information Package is a “must read” for any owner of a new home and Tarion requires that builders provide the Homeowner Information Package to all those purchasing new homes.  But what happens when a home under warranty changes owners? Mr. D was the second homeowner of a new home. When he tried to submit the statutory Year End Form Tarion rejected it because it was 15 days late. As the Homeowner Information Package and warranty start date had not been passed onto him by the previous owner, Mr. D was unaware of the timelines.  Our Office provided him with information about the warranty process and made sure that he knew how to access information going forward.   As a result of this homeowner contacting the Ombudsperson Office, we were made aware of a gap in the information provided to homeowners.  We spoke to Tarion and highlighted the importance of ensuring that 2nd and subsequent homeowners receive notification about their warranty timelines and the information that they need to protect their warranty rights. As a result, Tarion’s procedures changed to be proactive in providing 2nd and subsequent owners with the Homeowners Information Package and information regarding their remaining timelines.  

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    Scheduling Trouble

    Ms. N’s builder was not responding to her concerns about water penetration, so she attempted to contact Tarion’s Customer Service Department for information on the warranty process. When Ms. N attempted to reach the Contact Centre, she found that she was unable to get through and ended up leaving voice messages. However, when Tarion employees returned her calls, they did not leave a name or extension number for call back. Instead, Ms. N found herself having to repeat her issues and concerns all over again each time she contacted Tarion.   The Ombudsperson Office discussed this issue with Tarion’s Director of Customer Service. The Director informed the Ombudsperson that this approach is standard procedure because when calls come into the general phone line they are more likely to be picked up live than if they go to an individual staff number.   However, because of the concern raised by Ms. N, the Director agreed that a change would be made to Tarion’s call back process to ensure that Customer Service staff will leave an email address as well as the general phone number when returning a call. This way, customers like Ms. N can email details of their concerns and a specific staff person will be assigned to assist, cutting out the “telephone tag”. This change allows for continuity in addressing issues and prevents the need for homeowners to start over with each interaction.  

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    Ankle Deep in Trouble

    Mr. S was in the process of completing his One Year Form when he noticed water in his basement and a smell of sewage. He contacted the builder who suggested that Mr. S and his family not use water in the home or flush the toilet. The builder indicated that Mr. S’s next course of action should be to include this water penetration issue on his One Year Form when it was time to submit it to Tarion. Mr. S contacted the Office of the Ombudsperson because he believed the situation required urgent attention.   Mr. S had young children in the home and limitations to water usage and exposure to sewage could present a safety concern. He was not willing to wait for year end. The situation was in fact deteriorating and the water in the basement was now ankle deep. Mr. S requested the Ombudsperson Office’s help to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. The Ombudsperson Office reached out to Tarion’s Technical Desk and asked about immediate action for Mr. S and his family. Within the hour, the Technical Desk had contacted the builder and requested a review of the repairs that day. 

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