About the Consumer Protection Act, 2002

This guide is for home renovation and roofing contractors looking to comply with the Consumer Protection Act, 2002 (CPA).

The CPA ensures businesses in Ontario operate responsibly and treat customers fairly. It sets out the rights of consumers (your customers) and the obligations of businesses (called suppliers) in Ontario.

For example, the CPA:

  • sets out rules for estimates and agreements (contracts)
  • sets out consumer cancellation rights for certain kinds of transactions
  • prohibits false, misleading or deceptive representations by suppliers

Complying with the CPA will help you:

  • avoid potential enforcement action by the ministry
  • build stronger customer relationships
  • gain positive referrals that can lead to new business

Signing a contract

You must have a written agreement for any contract worth more than $50.

A written agreement is your best protection as a contractor. Carrying out a cash deal without proper contracts or remitting taxes can lead to serious consequences, such as:

  • losing your business
  • fines
  • enforcement action
  • conviction and possibly jail time

Types of agreements

The CPA establishes different types of contracts, depending on:

  • what your business is providing to the customer
  • when your business is to provide the goods or services
  • where the contract was negotiated or signed

The rules you must follow and the information you must include in your contract depends on what type of contract it is.

Home renovation and roofing contracts are commonly classified as a direct agreement or a future performance agreement under the CPA.

  • A direct agreement is a contract that is negotiated or signed in person, at a place other than your place of business. For home renovation and roofing contracts, the agreement is commonly signed at a customer’s home.
  • A future performance agreement is a contract that involves providing a good or service or payment, in the future or on an ongoing basis. For example, contracts for maintenance, cleaning, or snow removal may be considered future performance agreements.  

The CPA has specific rules for:

What to include in the contract

Contracts must include certain information to comply with the CPA.

Generally, your contract must include:

  • your name and your business name, business address and other contact information
  • a fair and accurate description of the work that the customer is agreeing to have completed, including the materials to be used and an itemized list of products and services
  • a clear description of any warranties on goods or the labour required to install them
  • the total cost and terms of payment with all applicable taxes
  • a work schedule, including start and completion dates
  • any sub-trades that will be contracted out, who the sub-contractors are, and who will pay for those sub-trades
  • a payment schedule, including the deposit amount (we recommend that deposits are not more than 10% of the total project cost)
  • who is responsible for preparing the work area and cleaning up after the job is complete

Please refer to the CPA for the complete set of rules on what each type of contract must include. For example, you may refer to

Providing an estimate

If an estimate is included in a contract, you cannot charge more than 10% above the estimated cost unless the customer requires additional or different goods or services and you have signed a change to your contract.

Changes in the middle of a project

If the customer wants to make changes in the middle of a project, you must document and communicate in writing any proposed changes in the scope of work to the customer. This way both you and the customer understand how the work is changing and how it affects the price, scheduling and completion dates.

Make sure both you and the customer sign the changed contract.

Cooling-off period

A customer has the right to a 10 day cooling-off period if they sign a contract at their home.

This means a customer may cancel the contract for any reason and without having to pay any cancellation fees within these 10 days. You must then provide a refund, including any deposits, within 15 days of the customer’s notice of cancellation.

Work started during the cooling-off period

If the customer cancels the contract during the 10 day cooling-off period and you have started work because the customer asked you to do so, you are entitled to reasonable payment for work and materials that you have already provided if they cannot be returned.

You may deduct payment from the refund you must provide or you can recover the payment for work separately.

Customers cancelling a contract

Customers can cancel most types of contracts within one year of entering it if they don’t receive a copy of the contract from you that meets the requirements under the CPA.

Customers also have the right to cancel a contract and be refunded if one of the following applies:

  • the contract has a cooling-off period and they are cancelling within this period
  • your business engaged in unfair business practices (for example, claiming that a service is needed when it is not, or misrepresenting the quality, style or model of product)
  • deliveries are not made on time

Go here for more details about consumers’ rights when cancelling contracts under the CPA.

Other helpful tips

Customer care

  • Have references from other renovations or roofing jobs so that you can use them to help you get new business. Many customers will ask for three references of people you did similar projects for in the recent past.
  • For larger projects, add regular meetings with the customer into the project plan where issues, budget and scheduling are discussed.
  • Consider recommending your customers visit municipal, provincial and federal websites for potential home renovation or upgrade rebate programs they may be able to take advantage of to save on costs.

Contracts

  • Inspect the area (house, room) and ask your customer lots of questions to understand the nature and scope of the work and develop a project plan, which you may choose to make part of the contract.
  • Talk with the customer about how you will deal with any disagreements or disputes (for example, if property is damaged). Ideally, this should be addressed in your contract.

Licences and permits

  • Make sure you clarify who will get and pay for any permits required from the city/town/municipality where the work will be done. This is the responsibility of the customer, but many contractors offer to do this for them. These details should be part of the contract for clarity.
  • Always have the right paperwork (for example, estimates, contracts, certifications and licences, building permits, receipts or proof of insurance). Check with your local city/municipality for their requirements, including for licences.

Following the law

Consumer Beware List

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services maintains the Consumer Beware List, a searchable list of businesses that have contravened, been charged or convicted under the province’s consumer protection laws, or have failed to meet certain requirements for responding to consumer complaints.

Information about a business will remain on the Consumer Beware List from 21 to 27 months.

This is why it’s important to engage in early discussions with a customer who has a complaint and to work cooperatively with the ministry when dealing with complaints. It could help you avoid being placed on the Consumer Beware List.

Contact us

If you have any questions about this guide, please contact us at:

Ministry of Government and Consumer Services
Consumer Services Operations Division
Box 450
Toronto, Ontario 
M7A 2J6

Courier packages should be delivered by Canada Post or Purolator.

Tel: 416-326-8800

Toll-free: 1-800-889-9768

TTY: 416-229-6086

Toll-free TTY: 1-877-666-6545

 consumer@ontario.ca