Ontario’s new home warranty program – Tarion – is governed by the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act and certain Regulations (the “Warranty Act”). Under the Warranty Act, a warranty claimant with an unresolved claim must request conciliation (with Tarion) within a specified time limit. If the claimant does not do so, the claimant is “deemed to have withdrawn its claim.”
So, if a claimant hopes to continue its claim under the Warranty Act process, it is exceptionally important not to miss the “conciliation request deadline.”
Under the Warranty Act, Tarion can extend the deadline in certain circumstances, including “extraordinary circumstances.” In a recent case (Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation No. 2471 v Tarion Warranty Corporation, 2019 ONLAT NHWPA 11500 ), the condominium corporation had missed the conciliation request deadline, and Tarion refused to extend the deadline. The condominium corporation appealed to the License Appeal Tribunal and the Tribunal held that extraordinary circumstances did exist (in that case) and ordered Tarion to extend the deadline. That’s great news for that condominium corporation…but I have another concern.
I’m concerned about the many cases where a claimant may “let the process lapse” – without requesting conciliation by the deadline even though a claim has been made – simply because the full nature and extent of the problem is just not apparent to the claimant at that time! Sometimes the full nature and extent of a building defect is just not readily apparent. And a condominium corporation may therefore decide not to pursue conciliation of a claimed item simply because it doesn’t appear to be an item worth pursuing…only to find out down the road that the item was much more serious or widespread than originally understood!
So, here’s my word of caution: If you have a claim to Tarion under the Warranty Act, make sure you arrange for full and thorough investigation of the claim (by an expert) – before the conciliation request deadline! That way, you’ll know the full nature and extent of the problem, which will help you better assess whether to request conciliation or not to bother.
Stay tuned to Condo Law News to keep up to date on the latest LAT decisions respecting Tarion warranty claims.