Manitoba

Manitoba scraps legislation that would have made home warranties mandatory

Legislation to protect homebuyers from being ripped off has been scrapped by the Manitoba government before it even came into force.

Province argues NDP legislation bogged down by too many regulations; most homes already covered by warranties

The New Home Warranty Act, passed by the former NDP government in 2013, would have made warranties mandatory for all new homes sold in Manitoba. The Progressive Conservative government says the requirements in the act were burdensome. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)

Legislation to protect homebuyers from being ripped off has been scrapped by the Manitoba government before it even came into force.

The act, passed by the former NDP government in 2013, would have made warranties mandatory for all new homes sold in Manitoba. It also would have created an online registry that would give prospective homeowners a chance to look up builders and warranty coverage before a sale.

The province sounded the death knell for the act — set to come into effect in 2020, after twice being delayed by the PC government — in its latest budget, delivered Thursday.

The province said in a statement that various stakeholders were concerned the 250 regulatory requirements in the act were burdensome.

But the reversal is discouraging to Karen Somerville, who helped the NDP government draft the New Home Warranty Act.

"While there are good builders in Manitoba, there are also poor and marginal builders, and consumers need adequate protection on newly built homes," said Somerville, who advocates for greater consumer protection through the organization Canadians for Properly Built Homes.

Consumers need protection: advocate

Considering years of delays, Somerville isn't surprised the legislation won't come into effect.

"There seemed to be some sort of hiccups going on in the background that they weren't sharing with us," she said.

"It's one thing to say that they're not proceeding with this new legislation. We're wondering what's next, and what are they going to be doing to adequately protect Manitoba purchasers of newly built homes?"

It gives the customer some reassurance that they know they're dealing with a reputable builder.- Lanny McInnes, Manitoba Home Builders' Association

NDP Leader Wab Kinew also argues the government is making a mistake.

People making one of the biggest purchases of their lives "shouldn't have to worry that their new home is going to become a money pit," he said.

The province said the majority of new homes in Manitoba already have warranty coverage, and builders must comply with the Manitoba Building Code and all permit requirements.

It also said the act would have cost Manitobans $750,000 a year in registration fees. 

These standards are already in place through the Manitoba Home Builders' Association, which asks its members to carry third-party coverage on all homes they sell. 

President and CEO Lanny McInnes said mandatory warranties wouldn't have made much of a difference for the builders under his organization's watch, but might have for builders not governed by as many regulations. 

The New Home Warranty Act was set for implementation in 2017 before it was delayed twice, and finally cancelled this week. (Arca/Shutterstock)

He said most builders in and around Winnipeg are properly sanctioned, but that may not be the case in rural areas.

"It gives the customer some reassurance that they know they're dealing with a reputable builder," he said of warranties.

McInnes said he's heard stories of people who were ripped off and would have benefited from coverage. He recommends that any prospective buyer inquire about coverage before buying a home.

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