Ontario has introduced legislation that would regulate home inspectors, ban certain door-to-door sales and strengthen
payday loan rules.
The changes would all fall under the Putting Consumers First Act, which the government said is aimed at protecting people in transactions involving common household and financial services.
The bill would ban unsolicited door-to-door sales of water heaters, furnaces, air conditioners and water filters, to protect
against what the government calls “aggressive” and “high-pressure” sales tactics.
All consumer-initiated contracts, such as for roofing or home renovations, would also have a 10-day “cooling-off period” during which consumers can change their minds and cancel the contract without any reason.
Home inspectors would be required to be licensed
Home inspectors would have to be licensed if the bill passes, and it would create an administrative authority to oversee them, with complaint and enforcement processes, including discipline and appeal committees.
The regulatory body would establish a code of ethics for home inspectors, standardize home inspection reports and contracts, define what must be inspected to ensure consistency, and set out insurance requirements.
Home inspectors are currently the only professionals involved in real estate transactions in Ontario that are not regulated. The Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) applauded the introduction of the bill.
“When buying a home, people have a right to expect high professional standards and government oversight of all professionals involved in a real estate transaction,” said Tim Hudak, the former Progressive Conservative leader and CEO Designate of OREA.
More enforcement powers to address unlicensed lenders
“High standards and a clear legal framework in the home inspection industry will ensure home buyers and sellers receive reliable, informative and professional advice when making one of the largest decisions of their lives.”
The not-for-profit corporation would be funded by licensing fees.
The bill would also give the registrar of payday loans the ability to restrict high-frequency borrowing, create standards that lenders must consider when determining a borrower’s ability to repay and give repeat borrowers an extended payment plan option.
It would also come with more enforcement powers to address unlicensed lenders. And municipalities would be allowed to regulate the number and location of payday lenders.
Debt collection rules would be changed under the bill, making firms that purchase debt for the purpose of collecting it subject to the same rules as collection agencies.