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Minister introducing motion to ban NOSIs

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Ontario’s Minister of Public and Business Service is hoping to crack down on what he calls an 'unethical practice.'

Minister Todd McCarthy is introducing legislation called the Homeowner Protection Act, 2024.

He said if the legislation passes, it could ban the registration of Notices of Security Interest (NOSIs) for consumer goods on the Land Registry.

The legislation would also get rid of all current NOSIs by officially expiring them.

Today’s announcement at the Waterloo Regional Police Services’ (WRPS) headquarters in Kitchener comes after police forces and legal experts have been pushing for legislative change to reduce the number of fraud scams using NOSIs to target homeowners.

A NOSI binds homeowners to a contract they must pay before they can sell or refinance their home.

The scams started years ago when illegitimate HVAC companies went door to door selling products to homeowners – typically seniors.

“Since the early 2000s, the number of NOSIs registered in Ontario’s Land Registry has skyrocketed from around 2,000 each year to more than 58,000 in 2023 alone,” McCarthy said.

“These registrations often occur without the homeowner’s knowledge and for amounts far exceeding the fixture’s actual value,” he said.

McCarthy said the ban and removal of NOSIs will not completely eliminate a business’ ability to try to seek repayment from consumers who default on their contracts, suggesting some measures will still exist through the court system.

Detective Adam Stover with WRPS’s Organized Financial Crime Team said NOSIs have become a tool used by organized crime to victimize vulnerable people.

“It’s leading to the loss of victims’ life savings and even their homes,” Stover said.

“The introduction of this legislation is great, but we really need all party support,” Stover said. “We need this to move through the process very, very quickly. We need this bill to become legislation in place, otherwise while this NOSI is still in effect, Ontarians will be vulnerable to the use of the NOSI used by predators.”

Meanwhile, representatives for the Canadian Lenders Association are speaking out against the move.

"The Government’s new legislation throws the baby out with the bathwater and fails to adequately stop abuse and fraud in the home equipment financing industry. It fails to address the bad actors while hurting the good ones in the space," President of the association Gary Schwartz said in an emailed statement.

"The government has not adequately consulted with industry to create a system that improves protection of homeowners and reduce abuse. Instead of making corrections to the rules, their knee jerk answer is to eliminate the rules and regulations all together. 

By retroactively eliminating NOSIs without a replacement system, the government is creating chaos for nearly three million Ontario HVAC & Home Improvement Consumers, who could now face a new hit to their credit rating as a direct result of the government’s unprecedented retroactive action.

Industry is calling on the government to act responsibly and introduce an alternative framework for home equipment financing before implementing this new legislation to ensure a healthy transition for businesses and consumers who do not deserve to be negatively impacted. Without one, Ontarians should expect a sudden and rapid increase in costs, credit requirements and declines related to their home equipment rentals," Schwartz wrote.

 

With reporting by Stefanie Davis

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