Even less protection for new home buyers

New home buyers are losing an ally. The SOS Residential Guarantee Plan organization, which helps consumers understand their rights and assert them, will close its doors this week. The Régie du logement du Québec (RBQ) has decided to end its funding for nebulous reasons.


Sometimes we need help to defend ourselves. This was precisely the mission of SOS Residential Guarantee Plan, created five years ago.

Its small team supports buyers of new homes, plexes and certain condos who discover design defects and struggle to honor the warranty. Since 2015, these types of properties have been covered by the Guarantee Plan of the GCR (Residential Construction Guarantee), a parapublic organization that reports to the RBQ.

Its counter-power, SOS Guarantee Plan, was born – with difficulty – four years later. His disappearance has already been confirmed. Funding will definitively end on March 31.

PHOTO TAKEN FROM A SCREENSHOT

The SOS Residential Guarantee Plan website announces and explains the closure of the organization.

The RBQ paid him between $340,000 and $410,000 per year. In its last fiscal year, the RBQ declared revenues of $96.9 million. This means that SOS took up 0.37% of its budget, which is not tight. The surplus amounted to 22 million.

The president of SOS, Albanie Morin, is surprised and saddened by the turn of events. Firstly because she had to follow up with the RBQ for months to find out what her game plan was. Could she ask for an extension of the five-year financing plan which was scheduled to end in March? Did she have to fill out new forms?

PHOTO FRANÇOIS ROY, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

Albanie Morin, president of SOS Residential Guarantee Plan

It was only in mid-February that she understood that the fate of SOS was sealed. The president of the RBQ, Michel Beaudoin, told him during a meeting that he was “dissatisfied”. What ? “That’s not really clear. I will allow myself to say that it is not clear, M told meme Morin. Mr. Beaudoin finds that we do not have enough impact. When he goes to the region, no one knows SOS. This is his perception. And we don’t have enough visibility. »

The visibility argument is particular, because there are limits to what an NPO can do which must survive on an average budget of $360,000 per year and pay six or seven people, notably lawyers. Its advertising, obviously, was focused on social networks. Impossible to broadcast advertisements on Radio-Canada during prime time.

Last year, SOS processed 500 files. It’s not easy to say whether it’s a lot or a little, nor to make cause and effect links.

If thousands of files were opened each year, this could be proof that the GCR does not compensate easily enough, that the guarantee plan is complicated or that the houses are very poorly built. In short, this would not necessarily be good news. A very reduced number of calls to SOS would not be better, since it could be the consequence of a lack of awareness or confidence of home buyers in the powers or competence of the NPO.

To put things into perspective, it is important to know that the GCR received 1081 claims requests in 2023 and 1344 the year before.

For her part, Albanie Morin was “happy” to have helped 500 new owners, but the RBQ deflated its enthusiasm by saying it was dissatisfied. “We did not know what results Mr. Beaudoin wanted to have as such. He didn’t say he wanted 1000, no. »

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE RÉGIE DU BÂTIMENT DU QUÉBEC

Michel Beaudoin, CEO of the Régie du logement du Québec

In other words, the expectations have never been clear, but the consequence is inevitable.

In management, we learn that it is essential to define SMART objectives (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-defined) if we hope for results and if we want to legitimately impose sanctions. Instinctively, parents also understand this principle with their kids.

Unfortunately, the RBQ did not call me back to explain. In its emails, the communications team mentions this as justification: the financial assistance program intended to protect beneficiaries of the Guarantee Plan “allows agreements of a maximum of five years”. Does this mean that every five years, everything will always have to start again? Let’s hope not.

Who knows, maybe SOS wasn’t doing its job very well. In reality, only those who have benefited from its services could comment on the question, but the RBQ has not mentioned a survey on the subject. Either way, new home buyers lose one resource while no other takes over. The RBQ promises that the vacuum will not last long, that a new “program” will be announced this spring. But how long will it take until this new bug will be known and effective?

In the meantime, it is possible to call the Association of Consumers for Quality in Construction (ACQC) free of charge. However, legal support is expensive and would require the organization to have new sources of income. “It is above all this that the consumer will lose,” judges its president, Marc-André Harnois.

It is still quite ironic that the RBQ, criticized for years for its inaction and its laxity towards entrepreneurs, notably by the Auditor General⁠1is today so severe with a small consumer defense organization.

1. Consult the text “An RBQ license is not a guarantee of quality”

Consult a column presenting SOS Guarantee Plan

Consult a column on the challenge of honoring the Home Warranty


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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