Company signed agreements with consumers without vendor or builder license
Ontario’s Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA) has charged Novel Condominiums (1970175 Ontario Inc) and Niagara Falls property developer Christopher Lamb with 26 counts each for acting as a new home vendor without a license and as director of an illegal enterprise. Wendy Moir Acheson, chief executive officer and registrar of the HCRA, says the company and Lamb violated the New Home Warranties Plan Act.
“The company was not licensed to be a vendor or builder and they signed purchase and sale agreements with some consumers without being licensed.”
Acheson says the HCRA regulates and licenses people and companies who build and sell new homes in Ontario. It enforces high professional standards for competency and conduct in the homebuilding industry, maintains consistency across the sector, and curtails unethical and illegal builders.
“It's certainly something that we take very seriously and need to make sure isn't happening because it's important for consumers to know that the entities that they're dealing with are licensed.”
Novel Condominiums released a statement stating that the issues that led to the charges have been rectified and the company is cooperating fully with the HCRA investigation. “All units are enrolled with Tarion, and purchaser deposits are securely held in trust as required by the Condominium Act and pursuant to our ethical obligations, which we take very seriously. Novel strives to ensure that all projects are in compliance with applicable laws and is dismayed to hear of the recent charges. Nonetheless, Novel is dedicated to satisfactorily addressing any legitimate issues that may have resulted in these charges being laid.”
This is the second set of charges laid by the HCRA, which began operations in February 2021. Acheson says HCRA opened an investigation into wholesales in the area and because of a complaint made pertaining to agreements of purchase and sale which took place in November and December 2019 at 6591 Montross road in the Niagara region.
“It's not just a matter of paperwork,” Acheson says. “We're actively enforcing the licensing requirements and high professional standards for competence and conduct because if they're not licensed, they cannot enrol home warranties. So, they need to know that we are paying attention and actively enforcing the requirements.”
The Real Estate Council of Ontario has also filed charges against Mr. Lamb for failing to notify the registrar and providing false information on an application form to be reinstated as a registered salesperson.
Novel Condominiums and Growth Social Health, a separate company owned by Lamb recently applied for a license renewal as vendor, but Acheson says the HCRA issued a notice of proposal refusing their licenses. The past conduct of an applicant is assessed when we're dealing with license applications and the HRCA evaluated Lamb’s charges and discovered other historical behaviour that led to the denial of his license.
“Mr. Lamb was charged in October 2020 for several criminal offenses, and in September 2021 pled guilty to those offenses, including exporting cannabis, two counts of possession for the purpose of selling cannabis, careless storage of firearms and was sentenced to incarceration for two years with the first 12 months served as house arrest, and the remainder subject to curfew with conditions as well as a fine and forfeiture.”
Acheson says conviction of an offence under the new home construction Licensing Act, or the Ontario new homes warranties plan act includes for a corporation, the maximum fine of $250,000 per charge account and for an individual, $50,000 or two years in jail or both per charge account.
The HCRA do not know Lamb’s position on the charges and Acheson says more information will unfold during the next course appearance on January 14. Lamb can also request to appeal his license denial until December 29.