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And even less protection for new homebuyers

And even less protection for new homebuyers

New homebuyers are losing an ally. SOS Housing Security Scheme, which helps consumers understand and assert their rights, will close its doors this week. The Régie du logement du Québec (RBQ) has decided to end its funding for mysterious reasons.

Sometimes we need help standing up for ourselves. This was precisely the mission of the SOS Housing Guarantee Scheme, which was created five years ago.

Her small team supports buyers of new homes, condos and some condos who discover design flaws and struggle to honor their warranty. Since 2015, these types of properties have been covered by the guarantee scheme of the GCR (Residential Construction Guarantee), a quasi-governmental organization that reports to the RBQ.

As for its counter-force, the rescue guarantee plan, it was born – with difficulty – four years later. His disappearance has already been confirmed. Funding will permanently expire on March 31.

Image taken from screenshot

The SOS Housing Guarantee Scheme website announces and explains the organization's closure.

RBQ paid him between $340,000 and $410,000 annually. In its most recent fiscal year, RBQ Bank reported revenues of $96.9 million. This means that SOS took up 0.37% of its budget, which is not insignificant. The surplus amounted to 22 million.

SOS President Albany Morin is surprised and saddened by the turn of events. Firstly because she had to follow up with RBQ for several months to figure out her game plan. Could she ask for an extension of the five-year funding plan that was scheduled to expire in March? Did she have to fill out new forms?

Photo by François Roy, Press Archive

Albany Morin, President of the SOS Housing Guarantee Scheme

It was not until mid-February that she realized that SOS's fate was sealed. RBQ party leader Michel Beaudoin told him during a meeting that he was “not satisfied.” What ? “It's not really clear. I'll allow myself to say it's not clear,” M. told meI Maureen. Mr. Beaudoin believes that we do not have enough influence. When he goes to the area, no one knows the SOS. This is his perception. We do not have enough vision. »

The visibility argument is special, because there are limits to what a nonprofit can do that must survive on an average budget of $360,000 a year and pay the salaries of six or seven people, especially lawyers. Its advertising was clearly focused on social networks. It is impossible to air advertisements on Radio Canada during prime times.

Last year, SOS processed 500 files. It is not easy to determine whether it is too much or too little, nor to make connections between cause and effect.

If thousands of files are opened every year, this may be evidence that the SRC does not compensate easily enough, the warranty plan is complex or the homes are very poorly built. In short, this would not necessarily be good news. Reducing the number of calls to SOS would not be better, as it may be the result of a lack of awareness or confidence among homebuyers in the powers or jurisdiction of non-profit organizations.

To put things into perspective, it is important to know that GCR received 1,081 claim applications in 2023 and 1,344 the previous year.

For her part, Albany Maureen was “happy” with the help of 500 new owners, but RBQ tempered her enthusiasm by saying she was not satisfied. “We did not know what results Mr. Beaudoin wanted to achieve in this way. He did not say he wanted 1,000, no. »


Michel Beaudoin, CEO of the Régie du logement du Québec

In other words, the expectations were never clear, but the consequences were inevitable.

In management, we learn that it is necessary to set SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) if we hope to achieve results and if we are to legitimately impose sanctions. Instinctively, parents also understand this principle with their children.

Unfortunately, RBQ did not contact me again for clarification. In its emails, the communications team cites this as justification: The financial assistance program intended to protect Guarantee Plan beneficiaries “allows agreements for a maximum of five years.” Does this mean that every five years, everything always has to start over? Let's hope not.

Who knows, maybe SOS wasn't doing its job well. In fact, only those who have used its services can comment on this question, but RBQ did not mention a survey on this topic. In both cases, new homebuyers lose one resource while no other resource takes over. The RBQ promises that the vacuum will not last long, and that a new “programme” will be announced this spring. But how long will it take for this new bug to become known and effective?

In the meantime, it is possible to contact the Consumer Association for Quality in Construction (ACQC) free of charge. However, legal support is expensive and will require the organization to have new sources of income. Its president, Marc-Andre Harnois, says: “Above all, the consumer will lose.”

It is ironic that RBQ Bank, which has been criticized for years for its inaction and laxity towards entrepreneurs, especially by the Auditor General⁠1Today, it is very serious with a small consumer advocacy organization.

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

See the column that displays the SOS Warranty Plan

See a column about the challenge of honoring a home warranty

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