HCRA: Mississauga developer ‘unfit for license’
Officials say the developer’s behaviour is unethical and illegal.
An Ontario developer is no longer allowed to sell or build homes in the province after an investigation revealed a pattern of illegal and unethical actions.
These practices included gouging customers on prices, forging building permit applications and failing to warranty homes.
Mississauga-based Pinetree Developments Inc. was investigated by the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA) after complaints from purchasers.
HCRA found that Pinetree had raised the price of a home under construction – despite a signed contract – and then attempted to resell that same property at a higher price when the original purchaser refused the increase and launched litigation. The company also falsified building permit applications, failed to enrol properties with Tarion as part of its warranty obligations, ignored City of Mississauga orders and repeatedly failed to respond to HCRA inspection letters and compliance orders.
“Any one of these actions would be cause for concern. Together they show a company unfit for a licence,” said Wendy Moir, the HCRA’s CEO and registrar. “Consumers must be protected from dishonest, unethical and unprofessional conduct, so the HCRA is revoking Pinetree’s licence to build and sell new homes.”
In December 2022, the HCRA commenced an inspection into Pinetree’s business operations, which uncovered a series of unethical and illegal activities:
- Despite a binding Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) on a Mississauga property, Pinetree sought to significantly increase the price.
- Pinetree refused to close the transaction and, despite numerous extensions, construction is not complete. The HCRA cannot confirm the cause for the delays because Pinetree failed to produce documents and respond to the HCRA’s concerns despite a Compliance Order requiring them to do so.
- After the purchaser refused to agree to the price increase, Pinetree listed the property for sale at a higher price on Realtor.com, despite the binding APS and a Certificate of Pending Litigation being registered.
- In order to obtain building permits from the City of Mississauga, Pinetree falsely identified the name and credentials of another builder, without their knowledge.
- Pinetree has started construction on or already built at least five homes without enrolling the homes with Tarion, as required by law.
- The HCRA received a complaint from the city of Mississauga indicating that Pinetree began construction on a home before the city issued a building permit. Once the City discovered that Pinetree had done so, it issued an order to immediately stop construction. Pinetree did not. The City then issued a second order but Pinetree still continued to build.
- Pinetree has never provided the HCRA with any documents or information to address the HCRA’s concerns.
“One of the standards for a licence is financial viability and responsibility,” Moir said. “Pinetree’s failure to produce relevant financial documents during the HCRA’s inspection created serious doubt about their ability to meet this standard.”
These are not the first infractions for Pinetree. In 2018, the company was charged and convicted in provincial court for illegally acting as a vendor of a new home. Patricia Perruzza, a principal, officer, and director for Pinetree, was also charged and convicted of two counts of illegally building and selling a new home, in relation to a previous licence held by Pinetree.
“Pinetree had the opportunity to appeal the HCRA’s formal notice that their licence would be revoked but did not do so,” Moir explained. “Under those circumstances, the licence revocation is automatic and immediate.”