Ontario Strengthening Protections For Homeowners And Homebuyers

Photo by Tierra Mallorca on Unsplash

The Ontario government is introducing new measures to strengthen consumer protections for homeowners and buyers so bad actors cannot take advantage of people through harmful business practices.

The province is also proposing measures to help ensure buyers of new freehold homes have the time and tools to confidently make informed choices.

In addition, the government is also ensuring Ontario’s heritage is conserved, while supporting more housing and infrastructure.

Banning consumer Notices of Security Interest registrations

A Notice of Security Interest (NOSI) is a notice that may be registered on the Land Registry by a business when it rents, finances or leases certain goods or equipment installed on a property – such as a water heater, furnace or HVAC unit.

The ministry has seen an increase in the number of consumers impacted by having these registrations on title, which is often discovered when they try to sell their home or access additional financing. Since the early 2000s, the number of NOSIs registered on the Land Registry has risen from approximately 2,000 registrations per year to more than 58,000 registrations in 2023. There are approximately 350,000 consumer and commercial NOSIs registered on the electronic Land Registry in Ontario.

In cases where the business misuses the registrations, consumers are often pressured to negotiate a buyout of the contract for the equipment and services in its entirety – which can result in exorbitant payouts.

Protecting buyers of new homes

10-Day Cooling-Off Period

The proposed legislation would take steps towards implementing a statutory 10-day cooling-off period for purchases of new freehold homes. This provides buyers with time to fully understand their commitments and back out if they choose, ensuring informed decision-making. Ontario intends to consult on regulations under the New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017, to implement a 10-day cooling-off period for buyers of new freehold homes, which would align protections with those of purchasers of new condos who already benefit from a cooling-off period.

Cancellation Disclosures

The government intends to boost homebuyer confidence by making regulatory changes that would provide for public disclosure of a builder’s history of cancelling purchase agreements for new freehold homes. Currently, buyers can access a builder’s record of cancelling condo purchase agreements on the Home Construction Regulatory Authority’s (HCRA) website. The proposed disclosure follows public consultations from summer 2023.

Illegal Building and Selling

Ontario plans to explore and consult on ways to protect consumers from the risks associated with purchasing homes from illegal builders who bypass licensing requirements and fail to enroll homes with Tarion, which oversees Ontario’s new home warranty and protection program. These illegally-built homes tend to have more defects and pose higher risks compared to those built legally. The province plans to hold consultations in early 2025 to develop recommendations to combat illegal building and selling practices in Ontario. Tarion pays out significantly higher claims for illegally built homes, averaging $45,928 per home compared to $19,563 for legally built homes for homes whose warranties began between 2006-2016. This initiative aims to create a fairer market for compliant builders and ensure better quality homes for buyers of new freehold homes.

Enhancing protections for condo owners

Expanding the Condominium Authority Tribunal’s Jurisdiction

More than one million Ontarians call a condominium community home, and those communities often have unique challenges and disputes. The Condominium Authority Tribunal is a fully online tribunal that resolves certain condo-related disputes, primarily between condo corporations and owners. Ontario is taking measured steps to expand the Tribunal’s jurisdiction in a phased and thoughtful way, beginning with consultations to be held soon around owners’ meetings.

Consultations for Condo Protections

Ontario also will consult on initiatives aimed at improving how condos are run by strengthening protections for owners and buyers, including through improvements to status certificates, disclosure statements, material changes during construction, and records access. The province intends to explore changes that could help increase operational and financial clarity so that owners are provided with transparency, while limiting burden to the condo corporations that are entrusted with running a condo on behalf of a community.

Supporting municipalities and property owners in conserving heritage

The proposed legislation would amend the Ontario Heritage Act giving municipalities two more years, until January 1, 2027, to complete the evaluation of properties on their municipal heritage registers. This would support municipalities by easing administrative pressures, allowing them more time to focus their efforts on conserving properties significant to their community.

In addition, the proposed amendments would provide clarity to municipalities and property owners on how certain legislated timelines and requirements apply to listed properties on municipal heritage registers.

Building more housing near transit

Ontario is taking action to help make it easier and faster to build more mixed-use housing near transit, ensuring the province’s historic and multi-billion-dollar investments in transit are used to their full potential. To provide continued certainty for our building partners on transit-oriented communities projects, Ontario is proposing to exempt designated transit-oriented community lands from the immunity provisions in the Planning Act related to the making, amending or revoking of minister’s zoning orders.


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