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Type of Complaints Handled by the HCRA
Licensed builders and vendors of new homes in Ontario must follow the law. The HCRA relies on the information and feedback provided by the public as one important way to identify and address violations of the rules. Complaints highlight potential and real harms faced by consumers which may result in any number of regulatory actions available to the HCRA’s licensing, compliance and enforcement teams. Reporting complaints and concerns will help the HCRA to better protect the public and to inform future improvements to competency and other requirements for builders and vendors.
The HCRA will address inquiries, concerns and complaints about builders and vendors. There are four key areas of interest to the HCRA:
- Compliance – the builder or vendor is appropriately licensed with the HCRA and new homes are enrolled with Tarion
- Conduct – the builder or vendor carries on business in accordance with the law and with honesty and integrity
- Competency – the builder or vendor has the knowledge and experience necessary to build new homes or sell new homes and to generally engage with new home purchasers and owners
- Financial Responsibility – the builder or vendor can reasonably be expected to be financially responsible in the conduct of their business
The types of complaints that are not within the jurisdiction of the HCRA and will be handled by Tarion include:
- Resolution of a new home construction defect or problem
- The complainant seeks compensation for a new home repair they paid for
- The complainant seeks compensation for a delayed closing
- A complaint about Tarion itself
The HCRA may also redirect complaints to a municipality for building permit and building code concerns. If an inquiry is about a matter that is not within the jurisdiction of the HCRA, the HCRA's staff will provide information that will enable the complainant to take their concerns to the appropriate organization.
The Complaints Process
If the HCRA has the authority to address the matter raised in the complaint, the following minimum information is necessary for the complaint to be considered:
- Name of the licensee (person or company name) and any person within the licensed company who is the subject of the complaint
- Name of the complainant or an acknowledgement from the complainant that the HCRA may not be able to look into a matter or take action unless the name of the complainant is provided
- Description of the behaviour that resulted in the complaint (who, what, when and where)
- Acknowledgment that the complaint information may be shared with the licensee and Tarion
Following a complaint being accepted, the HCRA staff will collect sufficient information about the complaint. This may include presenting the licensee with the complaint and asking for a response in writing.
If you are the subject of a complaint
If the Registrar receives a complaint about a licensee, the HCRA will gather information to determine what, if any, action is required. Licensees will be notified of the complaint and are required to provide any information requested by the Registrar as soon as is reasonably possible.
The HCRA will fairly and objectively consider all the relevant facts about the complaint.
The course of action taken will depend on the nature and severity of the conduct complained about, performance history and past conduct of the licensee, as well as information gathered from the complainant, the licensee and other parties.
The Registrar may:
- Attempt to mediate or resolve the complaint through informal or formal processes
- Issue a written warning advising the licensee that if the licensee continues with the activity, further action may be taken
- Require the licensee to take further educational courses or fund educational courses for employees
- Issue a Notice of Proposal to suspend, revoke or apply conditions to a licence
- Take other action as is appropriate, including referring the matter for investigation of a potential contravention of the NHCLA or the ONHWPA or closing the file without taking any action
The Registrar will notify the licensee of the outcome of the complaint.