The Homeowner Protection Act provides the HPO with the enforcement tools necessary to carry out its regulatory role in the residential construction industry and protect buyers of new homes.
Administering the Act involves significant compliance efforts on the part of the HPO. This regulatory function encompasses reviewing and monitoring owner builder authorizations and ensuring that residential builders have current licences. The HPO’s compliance team also ensures that new homes are enrolled (and continue to be enrolled) in home warranty insurance throughout construction.
There are tangible benefits from the HPO’s compliance work. For example, of the 125 information letters that the HPO issued in 2010, almost half resulted in the party voluntarily taking action that led to compliance with the Act and its regulations.
Information letters are issued to owner-builders, residential builders, unlicensed developers (owner selling a new home), realtors, lending institutions, and lawyers, and cover a range of compliance matters, such as:
• realtors selling a new home that is not covered by home warranty insurance
• realtors selling a new home that is subject to an Owner Builder Authorization and a 12-month waiting period before the home can be offered for sale
• individuals and companies building in non-permit areas of the province
• creditors that have foreclosed and have conduct of sale for a new home that is not covered by home warranty insurance
• owners of new homes that had an HPO Licensed Residential
Builder build the home and enroll it with home warranty insurance; they need to have an HPO licence as they are acting as a developer by selling their interest in a new home
• owners of new homes that are not covered by home warranty Insurance and do not have a valid Owner Builder Authorization; they cannot legally be offered for sale without one of those in place, and
• lawyers acting for owners, builders, lenders – advising them of the requirements under the Act and regulations.
Where voluntary compliance is not possible or appropriate, the HPO may issue compliance orders, as well as monetary penalties of up to $25,000 per offence, both of which can be enforced by court order. The HPO may also prepare reports to Crown Counsel recommending that charges be laid for offences committed under the Act. Between January 1 and December 31, 2010, the HPO issued 37 Compliance Orders.
Summaries of all compliance orders, monetary penalties and convictions are available to the public on the HPO website at www.hpo.bc.ca.
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