Since there was no remaining meaningful consumer protection activities or responsibilities being conducted at the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO), it is no surprise to learn that the HPO is quietly closing its doors.
The announcement last summer that the HPO interest-free loan program (designed to keep Leaky Condo owners in their homes) was being discontinued has already started to take its toll.
I’ve received several phone calls from devastated owners in absolute despair. The best option for one woman, almost a neighbour of Minister responsible, Rich Coleman’s, is to quit her job and declare bankruptcy.
Following the loan program cancellation, it was predictable that the HPO itself would be on the chopping block because it was now doing nothing for consumers as required by the flawed Homeowner Protection Act.
This same type of failed (HPO) experiment was under scrutiny in Texas last year.
The misnamed Homeowner Protection Office had been a front for the building industry for more than ten years. Government appointees from the industry ran it, and there was no substantive measures brought in to bring about consumer protection. Instead it sponsored everything for developers.
The appalling track record of the industry has not improved since at least the 1970’s when BC home builders realized that they were faced with consumer issues on a scale that required the concentrated effort of a large number of dedicated merchant builders (industry types) to create a consumer protection plan, the New Home Warranty program (NHW).
Remember prior to the formation of the HPO, it was the same industry types that ran this New Home Warranty program into the ground.
This helps to answer the question as to why there are so many defects, delays, etc., on new homes; the industry leaders don’t know how to manage, and furthermore they are working with severely outdated business models.
Unfortunately too many of them continue to make good profits in a broken system at the expense of the consumer. They try to build their reputation on philanthropic good deeds from this profiteering, rather than world-class, top quality homes for Canadians. To hell, with those who purchased the defective new homes they built.
Given the continuing home building problems in BC (see 2008 HPO survey results) and the pathetic and continuing failure of government and the industry, is it now time to expand the role for the Ombudsman in BC?