Ontario Construction News staff writer
Ontario’s Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA) has charged property developer Christopher Lamb and his company at the time, 1970175 Ontario Inc., with 52 charges in violation of the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.
1970175 Ontario Inc., advertised as Novel Condominiums, is charged with 26 counts of illegally acting as a vendor of a new home. Lamb is charged with 26 counts in his capacity, at the time, as an officer/director of an illegal vendor of new homes. The charges stem from an HCRA investigation into home sales in the Niagara Falls area.
On Monday, Chris Lamb said the numbered company is co-operating with the HCRA, though it is “dismayed” with the charges that were laid on Nov. 8. He said in a statement to OCN that the business is now properly registered and home buyer’s deposits are “securely held in trust”.
“The HCRA is determined to identify and take action against builders or vendors who try and operate outside or below provincial standards,” says Wendy Moir Acheson, the HCRA’s Chief Executive Officer and Registrar. “This is a minority of builders and vendors, but it can result in significant hardships for home buyers and can damage public confidence and trust in the entire industry.”
This is the second set of charges laid by the HCRA, which began operations in February of this year, following charges against Ideal (BC) Developments in August.
“Most of Ontario’s licensed builders and vendors have a strong record of competency and good conduct. They can be undermined, however, by illegal or unethical competition,” Moir Acheson said. “Those who knowingly choose to avoid their legal obligations can expect the HCRA to use a broad range of regulatory tools – including, when necessary, charges – to curtail this unacceptable behaviour.”
The charges have been posted to the Ontario Builder Directory (OBD) and the HCRA’s website, as the HCRA is committed to disclosing any charges laid by the Registrar, to enhance consumer protection and home buyer confidence.
“The OBD is a searchable database, complete with warnings if a builder is known to be operating illegally. We strongly encourage prospective home buyers to search the OBD to ensure the builder they are considering working with is licensed to build homes in Ontario,” Moir Acheson says.
Niagara Falls planning department documents show an application to develop 6583 and 6599 Montrose Rd. as a 26-unit townhouse development in 2019. The numbered company 1970175 Ontario Inc. is associated with the proposed development.
On Monday, Chris Lamb issued the following statement to Ontario Construction News.
“We have been made aware of provincial offence charges laid against 1970175 Ontario Inc., advertising as Novel Condominiums. The issues that gave rise to the charges have since been rectified and we are co-operating 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 of its 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,” the statement said.
“We recognize that purchasers put their faith in Novel when purchasing their dream homes from us. As such, we are committed to treating them with honesty, integrity, and respect throughout the entire homebuying and homebuilding process and have endeavoured from day one to meet the high standards we have set for ourselves and as expected by our loyal purchasers, to whom we are grateful to for their continued trust in us.
“The HCRA regulates new home builders and vendors in the province. They protect the public interest through a fair, safe and informed marketplace that supports the goal of a continuously improved homebuilding industry in Ontario.
“HCRA holds licensed builders to professional standards, protects the public interest, and enhances consumer confidence in the homebuilding industry in Ontario. Novel is committed to upholding these values across its operations and will continue to make all possible efforts to rectify any remaining issues there may be,” the Novel statement said.
“To clarify, the company had applied prior to sales, finalized enrolments prior to building (as you can verify on the HCRA website), (but) mistakenly sold the units prior to enrolments being finalized,” Lamb wrote in an email. “These units are now near complete and being occupied in a timely fashion (this can also be verified via Tarion/HCRA website) (and) six of the units have been occupied thus far.”