Door-to-door sales were banned in Ontario four years ago, but before they were stopped, many people ended up stuck in expensive long-term rental contracts for furnace, water heaters and air conditioners.
If you did sign an agreement to rent equipment for your home a lien may have been placed on your property without your knowledge.
Shirley Coultis said after her brother Richard Hancock of Markham, Ont., died in March of this year she was put in charge to handle his financial affairs and was shocked at what she discovered.
“There are multiple contracts with multiple companies all with different names, ” said Coultis.
Coultis found out her brother, who she called a trusting person with medical issues, had signed multiple contracts to rent six different items including a furnace, air filter and water softener.
Despite already paying more than $15,000 in rental fees, Coultis found there were four registered liens on his home for $36,290.
“It’s legal that they can put liens on your house without you knowing and it’s absolutely outrageous that they are allowed to do that,” said Coultis.
Venus Lopez, also of Markham, said an air conditioner was installed at her home seven years ago and she said she later felt misled and quit making the rental payments.
Lopez later found out there was a lien placed on her home for $14,829.
“I can’t believe they put a lien on my property. I feel humiliated, I can’t sleep and it bothers me,” Lopez said.
Dennis Crawford is a lawyer with Ontario HVAC Scam www.ontariohvacscam.com a company that said it helps homeowners find out if they have liens on their homes and for a fee tries to have them removed.
“I call it a scam because the entire business model of these rental contracts is based on deception,” said Crawford.
Crawford said many people are unaware they have a lien on their home until they go to sell it.
“They really don’t care about the monthly payments because they make their real money when you have to sell your house you have no choice but to pay them to remove the lien,” Crawford said.
Ontario HVAC Scam said the fee to remove a lien from a home will vary, but it says for a typical case it will charge about $5,000. Crawford said there is a money back guarantee if they are unable to have the lien removed.
Crawford said Ontario HVAC Scam will do a title check for free to see if you have a lien on your home. You can also do one through Service Ontario and Onland using the property search function for a fee of about $30. https://help.onland.ca/en/home/
Crawford says companies should not be allowed to place a lien on people’s homes without them knowing.
“The Ontario government needs to close this loophole that allows companies to put liens on homes without the homeowner’s permission,” said Crawford.
When CTV News Toronto reached out to the companies that had liens on Hancock’s home they removed them and forgave the entire amount. The company that had a lien on Lopez’s home also removed the lien on her home and also forgave the amount owing.
Even though most door-to-door sales are banned in Ontario, there are still some products that can be sold at the door. Be careful signing any contract and before renting equipment do the math to see if you’d be better off buying it.
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