Ask the right questions

When hiring a home inspector, consider asking:

  • May I see a copy of the inspection report you use?
  • Do you have experience inspecting the type of home that I’m considering?
  • Do you have insurance?
  • May I see accreditation that shows what kind of training and experience you have?
  • Can you provide references?

Choosing a real estate salesperson or broker

In Ontario, real estate salespersons, brokers and brokerages are regulated under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act and must be registered with the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). RECO administers and enforces the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act.

A registered real estate professional is someone who:

  • has met educational standards set by RECO
  • has to follow laws and a code of ethics set out under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act. If you have a complaint about a brokerage, broker or salesperson, RECO will investigate and take appropriate action
  • must carry deposit insurance. This insurance protects consumers from losing their deposit money if the brokerage or salesperson commits fraud or has financial trouble. In these cases, consumers may be covered up to $100,000 per claim. This insurance is administered by RECO

Before working with a real estate agent, broker or brokerage:

  • ask for references or recommendations
  • confirm that they are registered by using RECO’s registrant search
  • make sure you read and understand the contract you are signing with them

Make a claim under RECO’s insurance program

Submit a complaint to RECO

If you are buying a condominium (condo) unit or townhome, read our guide to buying and living in a condo.

Protect yourself from mortgage fraud

To avoid unknowingly taking part in a mortgage fraud, be suspicious if you are:

  • asked to say that you make more money than you really do
  • asked to lie about whether you will live in a property or rent it out
  • asked to sign documents that have blanks, or asked not to fill out certain sections of a form or document
  • offered a fee for the use of your name and credit information
  • discouraged from visiting the property, or having it appraised or inspected

If a registered real estate professional commits mortgage fraud, The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) can take away their registration or prosecute them.

See RECO’s website for more information on mortgage fraud.

Choosing a builder

In Ontario, all new home builders and vendors must be licensed by the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA). The HCRA is responsible for administering the New Home Construction Licensing Act, 2017 to license and regulate new home builders and vendors, and to protect consumers when purchasing a new home.

Tarion is responsible for enforcing the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, which includes administering Ontario’s new home warranty and protection program.

After obtaining a licence with the HCRA, builders must enroll a new home, condominium, or residential condominium conversion project (existing non-residential buildings that are converted to condominiums) with Tarion before they begin construction.

The HCRA investigates illegal builders and vendors who are not licensed and/or do not enroll new homes.

Among other requirements, licensed builders must:

  • meet the competency requirements established for licensees
  • demonstrate they can reasonably be expected to be financially responsible when conducting business
  • demonstrate that their business will be carried on in accordance with the law and with integrity and honesty
  • not be in breach of a condition of the licence if they are already licensed
  • comply with all tax laws and regulations that are prescribed

Licensed builders and vendors also must comply with a Code of Ethics that requires them to operate in a professional manner with honesty, integrity, financial responsibility, and without intimidation or coercion.

You should always research a builder or vendor before buying a new home. You can use the HCRA’s Ontario Builder Directory to check:

  • if a builder or vendor is licensed with the HCRA
  • if any conditions have been placed on their licence
  • if Tarion has had to resolve warranty claims for a builder in the past 10 years
  • how many homes they have built and where these homes are

If you buy a home from an unregistered builder, you are putting yourself and your investment at risk. Illegal builders:

  • may not have enough technical knowledge to be licensed
  • may not meet Tarion’s financial qualifications to enroll the home for warranty
  • are part of the underground economy
  • can be subject to investigations and criminal charges

Contact the HCRA if you have a question or complaint about a new home builder or vendor.

The HCRA and Tarion do not enforce Ontario’s Building Code. Your municipality is responsible for enforcing the Ontario Building Code in your area.

Contact the Ministry of Municipal Affairs for questions about the building code.

Sign-up for updates

Subscribe to the newhomes@ontario.ca mailing list to receive updates about:

  • Ontario’s new home warranty and protection program
  • licensing of new home builders and vendors
  • future consultation opportunities
  • access to past email notices

Warranty for a new home

When you buy a new home or condo unit in Ontario, it comes with warranties and protections provided by your builder and administered by Tarion. You are entitled to those warranties and protections by law.

New homes have 1-year, 2-year and 7-year warranties. They cover issues such as:

  • bad workmanship
  • water penetration
  • major structural defects

The warranties also cover delayed closing and delayed occupancy. You also have other protections, such as deposit protection. Learn more about these warranties and protections on Tarion’s website.

The warranties also cover delayed closing and delayed occupancy. You also have other protections, such as deposit protection.

Some of the warranties take effect on the date of possession. They stay in effect even if the owner sells the house or condo unit before the end of the warranty period.

Coverage may vary depending on the type of home you buy. For example, homes built on existing footings or foundations may not be covered. Pre-existing elements of residential condo conversion projects (existing buildings that are typically non-residential and converted to condos) are not covered by some of the 1-year warranties.

Tarion has an e-learning hub with plain language modules to help homeowners understand their warranty coverage, rights, responsibilities and the importance of the pre-delivery inspection.

If you have concerns with how Tarion has handled your new home warranty and protection claim, you can file a complaint with the New Home Ombuds Office by:

The New Home Ombuds is an independent, impartial and confidential office that promotes and protects fairness for homeowners who submit claims to Tarion. Complaints received by the New Home Ombuds are reviewed to determine whether homeowners have been treated in accordance with Tarion’s practices and procedures. The New Home Ombuds also reviews Tarion’s operations to identify issues and make recommendations to Tarion for improvements.

Sign-up for updates

Subscribe to the newhomes@ontario.ca mailing list to receive updates about:

  • Ontario’s new home warranty and protection program
  • licensing of new home builders and vendors
  • future consultation opportunities
  • access to past email notices

Mediation of a new home warranty claim 

Mediation allows homeowners to resolve warranty claim disputes about their new home with Tarion. Learn how to participate in mediation with Tarion about your warranty claim if you disagree with Tarion’s assessment of it.

Appeal a Tarion claim decision

You can appeal a Tarion claim decision to court or the Licence Appeal Tribunal. Learn how to appeal a Tarion claim decision.

Although the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery is not able to intervene in individual warranty cases, you may contact us if you have a complaint about Tarion. If you consent to the ministry sharing your complaint with Tarion, we may contact Tarion on your behalf and ask for a response.

Your rights when buying a condo unit

Your rights as a condo unit owner will be different depending if your condo unit is new, pre-construction, or already owned by someone else.

Buying a new or pre-construction condo

When buying a new or pre-construction condo:

  • you have the right to cancel the purchase within 10 days (called a “cooling- off period”) of receiving a copy of the fully signed purchase and sale agreement, and the disclosure statement, and Ontario’s Residential Condominium Buyers’ Guide
  • you can cancel a sales agreement within 10 days of being informed of a significant change (called a “material change”) to the disclosure statement
  • if you make a deposit, the developer must make sure that it is held in trust
  • if you cancel, the developer generally must refund any deposits plus any interest that may be payable
  • the developer must take all reasonable steps to complete the project

As of January 1, 2019, all buyers of units in a standard or phased residential pre-construction condominium project must be given an information sheet with their agreements of purchase and sale that clearly outlines the possible risks of buying a unit in a pre-construction condominium project, including early termination conditions, timelines, and the project status. This only applies to condominium projects where the first agreement of purchase and sale was signed after January 1, 2019.

As of January 1, 2021, legislative amendments to the Condo Act for a condominium guide came into force. The amendments require declarants (developers) to provide a copy of Ontario’s Residential Condominium Buyers’ Guide to purchasers of pre-construction or new residential condos.

Developers must also provide a copy of the currently required disclosure statement to every person who buys a residential property from the developer or person acting on behalf of or for the benefit of the developer.

The guide was developed by the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO), and approved by the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, based on consultations with key stakeholders and the public. The CAO’s website will also be updated as appropriate with the latest version of Ontario’s Residential Condominium Buyers’ Guide.

The HCRA’s Ontario Builder Directory includes information about condominium projects retroactive to January 1, 2018, including cancelled condominium projects and the status of each condominium project (completed, in progress, or cancelled).

Warranty for new condos

You are entitled to receive warranties and other protections when you purchase a new condo unit in Ontario. Tarion can give you more information about warranty coverage and, if needed, settle a dispute with a builder under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.

Buying a resale or preowned condo

When buying a resale condo unit:

  • there are no rules in place (in legislation) outlining a set time (“cooling-off period”) of when you can cancel your purchase without penalty
  • you may request and pay for a status certificate, which includes copies of the declaration, by-laws, and rules

Getting a home inspection

Getting a home inspection can be a good idea whether you’re buying or selling a home. An inspection can:

  • give the buyer information about a home’s condition so they can make better-informed decisions
  • help the seller determine the value of their home

What is a home inspection?

A home inspection is an on-site, in-person examination of a home’s condition and structure. It is a visual inspection of major elements and systems, like the foundation, the electrical and plumbing systems, the attic ventilation, and the roof.

A home inspection is not a pass or fail test. It doesn’t assess if a home meets zoning or building codes.

A home inspector will typically examine the:

  • foundation
  • doors and windows
  • roof (if they are able and it is safe to do so)
  • exterior walls
  • attics
  • plumbing and electrical systems (where visible)
  • heating and air conditioning systems
  • ceilings, walls, and floors
  • insulation (where visible)
  • ventilation systems
  • drainage away from buildings, slopes and natural vegetation
  • overall assessment of structural integrity of the building(s)
  • common areas in a condominium

Home inspectors complete a report of the property’s condition, as they see it at the time of inspection. It will normally show:

  • the condition of every major system and component of the home
  • areas or parts of a home that are unsafe, need to be repaired or replaced, or may need to be repaired or replaced in the near future
  • if something is not working properly, is unsafe, or needs to be changed
  • any evidence of past problems

After getting the results of a home inspection, a buyer may decide to:

  • ask the seller to make certain repairs
  • accept a defect and deal with its consequences
  • ask for a price adjustment
  • not buy the home

Some sellers may have an inspection done before selling a home. Although seeing a current inspection report can be helpful, buyers should have their own home inspection done too.

If you’re the homebuyer, make sure you’re there for the inspection. This gives you a chance to ask questions and see issues firsthand.

You should also keep in mind that:

  • an inspector cannot see or find everything; for example, an inspector may not find mould or may not be able to inspect a roof that is covered with snow
  • an inspector does not provide warranties or guarantees on a home’s condition
  • inspectors are currently not required by law to have insurance coverage however, many do have policies that can include general liability or errors-and-omissions coverage
  • home inspection fees range from $350 to $600 and may be higher, depending on the size and condition of the home

Hiring a home inspector

You will need to do some research to find a reliable, experienced, and knowledgeable home inspector.

Look for a home inspector who:

  • provides written inspection reports
  • will give you references
  • has experience with the type of home you’re considering (e.g., condos, heritage era homes, cottages)
  • has an accreditation that shows training and experience
  • will provide a written contract

When hiring a home inspector make sure to:

  • get quotes from more than one inspector
  • check references
  • ask about their training and experience
  • ask to see a copy of the inspection report they use
  • ask if they choose to have insurance

At this time, Ontario does not have mandatory requirements for home inspectors. However, there are many training programs and courses that inspectors can take to gain knowledge and understanding of home design, construction, operation, maintenance, and common defects.

File a complaint about a home inspector or home inspection