Guarantee Plan

For New Residential Buildings

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Arbitration

The government of Québec chose to include in the Regulation respecting the guarantee plan for new residential buildings a direct course of action that is not subject to appeal and generally inexpensive for consumers: arbitration.

Arbitration allows anyone who buys a new home or a new condo covered by the mandatory Guarantee Plan to contest a decision made by the plan manager.

As with mediation, your contractor can also take recourse in arbitration if they are not satisfied with a decision made by the plan manager.

The request

The mediation failed, and it is impossible to reach an agreement with the plan manager or the contractor? You’re going directly to arbitration instead?

You have 30 days starting from the date of receipt by registered mail of the plan manager’s decision, to consult an arbitration body authorized by the Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ). The arbitration body will then inform you of the guidelines to follow.

You can access the decisions rendered by these bodies on the RBQ websiteThis link leaves Guarantee Plan for New Residential Buildings Website., which allows you to search by subject and consult a summary of these decisions.

Following receipt of your arbitration request, the arbitration body must inform both your contractor and the plan manager of your request. The plan manager must then send a copy of the file being contested to the arbitration body. Following receipt of the file, an arbitrator is designated. The public information document prepared by the arbitration body is then sent to you to help you understand the entire arbitration process.

GOOD TO KNOW

If you believe that measures must be taken to ensure the preservation of your home or condo and therefore prevent further damage, do not hesitate to communicate this to the arbitration body in your request or at any time during the hearing.

See the list of authorized arbitration bodies

See the arbitration decisionsThis link leaves Guarantee Plan for New Residential Buildings Website.

The hearing

In the case of a claim, the arbitration request hearing must begin within 30 days following your request. The arbitrator must inform the parties 5 days in advance of the date, time, and location of the hearing and, if applicable, the date when they will conduct the visit of your property. The arbitrator must hear all parties in order to render the most informed decision possible. The arbitrator's decision is binding, final, and not subject to appeal.

At this moment, if you still disagree with the decision, you have one last resort: the courts.

Before the hearing

  • Make sure that your file is complete and that all your witnesses are readily available.
  • Do not hesitate to request the services of a lawyer to advise or represent you, especially if legal points must be discussed or if large sums of money are involved.
  • You may also need to consult a technical expert to better substantiate your case before the arbitrator.

Costs

Arbitration costs are fully reimbursed by the plan manager if you partially or completely win your case. If you lose on every point of your claim, you may have to pay some fees. You can find out about these fees from the arbitration bodies before the beginning of this process.

Your lawyer’s fees are your responsibility and will not be reimbursed by the plan manager.

The reimbursement of your expert’s fees must be decided by the arbitrator. The arbitrator will evaluate the weight that the expert’s opinion lent to the file and decide whether or not the plan manager will reimburse you for it.

The arbitrator must also make a decision regarding the reimbursement of your expert's fees by the plan manager and the contractor, even if it was the contractor who contested the plan manager's decision.

Interruption of arbitration

There are three possible situations in which the arbitration process might be interrupted.

You change your mind about your application for arbitration.

In this case, you must advise the arbitrator or arbitration body of your decision, and you will probably have to pay the fees for filing the application for arbitration. However, a word of caution: If you abandon your application for arbitration without having come to an agreement with the contractor or the plan manager, you will lose your right to challenge the validity of the plan manager’s decision that led to the arbitration request, once the 30-day time limit for this has expired.

You come to an agreement with your contractor and the plan manager, or with the plan manager only.

In this case, you may be asked to abandon your application for arbitration in consideration of such an agreement. If you abandon your application for arbitration after coming to an agreement either with the contractor and the plan manager, or with the plan manager only, you must contact the arbitrator to:

  • inform them of the details of your agreement
  • request that they record the agreement in an arbitration decision
  • make an order requiring the parties to comply with it.

This will allow you to file an application for official recognition of the agreement, should a party fail to comply with it.

You come to an agreement with the contractor only.

Abandonment of your application for arbitration, required under the terms of your agreement, could result in losing your right of recourse once the 30-day time limit following receipt of the decision rendered by the Guarantee Plan manager has elapsed.

In order to retain your right to arbitration, you may ask the arbitrator to postpone the hearing until after the date set out in the agreement for the performance of the work. This allows you to be certain that all parties have complied with the agreement before you officially abandon your recourse to arbitration. If a party fails to comply with the agreement, you will be able to reinstate the arbitration process.

Only recourse left

What can you do if the contractor or plan manager does not carry out the arbitrator’s decision?

You must submit an application before the Superior Court of Québec so that the arbitrator’s decision be ratified. The arbitrator’s decision will then be in full effect and enforceable. This will probably be a simple formality, and you should not have to debate again in front of the arbitrator. After this step, you can use the means to enforce the decision.

But first, discuss this matter with your lawyer as he is the one who can inform you on the procedure.