Ontario says that it is cracking down on “unethical” condo development practices through increased fines and penalties.Photo: shawn / Adobe Stock

Ontario says that it is cracking down on “unethical” condominium development practices through increased fines and penalties according to reporting from The Canadian Press.

Government and Consumer Services Minister Ross Romano said that the proposed new regulations will come into effect in 30 days and be retroactive to the date of Thursday’s announcement, which will include doubling fines for corporations and individuals who cancel pre-construction projects before increasing the price of their units.

According to separate reporting by CBC News, the maximum fines that the Home Construction Regulatory Authority’s (HCRA) disciplinary committee can place on developers is currently $25,000 for individuals and $50,000 for corporations. The HCRA was designated by the Ontario government in February 2021, and oversees the regulation and licensing of new home builders and vendors in the province.

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Fine limitations would be lifted for repeat offenders, while developers who engage in unethical practices could potentially lose their license for two years instead of the current six months.

The Minister explained that the Progressive Conservative government has been wanting to make changes after hearing stories from consumers who committed to a new home purchase at one price, only to see those prices be “extraordinarily increased.”

“Our goal is to create a system whereby we have greater teeth so that developers will think twice before they take advantage of homebuyers,” Romano told reporters, according to CP.

The new regulations would see that offences be considered when assessing “unethical behaviour” and determining penalties. To speed up the process, the HCRA would be able to launch investigations without complaint. The changes would also see that deposits are returned at the Bank of Canada’s interest rate so that new home purchasers don’t lose money should a condo project be cancelled.

Reporting from CP says that a consultation process is underway for the proposed rules.

“We’ve given notice. Developers need to take notice that we are not going to accept this behaviour,” said Minister Romano. “These are all tools that we are giving our regulatory authority to ensure that we are protecting the little guy.”

Ontario’s NDP opposition has reportedly said that “stricter penalties won’t be effective if they aren’t enforced.” Sara Singh, the NDP’s deputy party leader, stated that the regulatory authority already had the power to issue fines.

“The tools are important, but actually acting and enforcing those mechanisms [is] also really important,” said Singh.

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