Strengthening consumer protection properly
THE province recently announced it is introducing changes that will benefit consumers. Gord Mackintosh, minister responsible for consumer and corporate affairs, said the government is committed to strengthening consumer protection in 42 different areas.
Proposed changes include a variety of items of interest to current and potential home buyers and those wanting to upgrade their existing home. For example, legislation will be introduced to protect against real estate fraud occurring when properties are sold without proper authorization. The government will also provide assurances for home buyers regarding the condition of their intended home purchase. This may come in the form of inspections, although Manitoba does not currently license home inspectors, so this may be difficult to qualify. The provision of a statement of current property condition may be the first step in this discussion.
The Manitoba Home Builders’ As- sociation and the province have been engaging in discussions regarding new home warranties. The MHBA has long been in favour of mandatory warranties for new homes. The MHBA will not even accept members who have not offered third party warranties for at least two years.
The laborious part of these discussions has been the determination of what should and shouldn’t be part of the mandatory new home warranty. After all, for every item included the cost to the consumer increases and neither the province nor the MHBA want to make housing affordability more difficult.
It will be important to find the right balance of necessary protection for the consumer without burdening them with unnecessary expenses for coverage they don’t require.
The proposed new legislation also aims to ensure that consumers are dealt with fairly in home renovations. The initial intent is to develop legislation regarding contracts, estimates and final costs. Again, the MHBA is fully supportive of legislation that will force all persons doing renovations for consumers to adhere to the high standards set by the RenoMark renovator members of the MHBA.
The province and the consumer affairs branch have proposed some very ambitious goals for the future. However, by working closely with industry to ensure a win/win scenario for business and consumers, the odds of success are greatly enhanced.