In a recent case Thompson v. Ottawa Green Savings (12 September 2023), Justice Sally Gomery concluded that the rental of the air conditioner and water heater were induced by fraudulent misrepresentations and therefore set them aside and awred punitive damages.
Specifically, according to Gomery:
- OGS made false and misleading representations to her
- about its relationship with the Ontario government,
- her need for new HVAC equipment,
- the cost savings she would achieve by using the equipment it promoted, and
- her eligibility for energy rebates.
“It misled her about the terms of the rental and financing agreements it promoted and hid the real terms by giving Ms. Thompson only a partial copy of them.”
In fact, they registered a $28,000.00 Notice of Security against her property.
“ I conclude that OGS made fraudulent misrepresentations to Ms. Thompson to induce her to sign agreements for the rental and financing of equipment that she did not actually need, and that Ms. Thompson relied on these misrepresentations.
This entitles her to an order setting the contracts aside. I further find that OGS’ misrepresentations to Ms. Thompson constituted an unfair practice under s. 14 of the Consumer Protection Act, 2002, SO 2002, c 30 Schedule A.
This finding again entitles her to rescission of the agreements, as well as setting aside of related security interests and damages under s. 18 of the Act. The agreements that Ms. Thompson signed are therefore rescinded, and the notice of security registered by OGS on the title of Ms. Thompson’s property based on the agreements shall be discharged. Ms. Thompson is also entitled to damages from OGS equivalent to what she paid for the equipment and financing charges, which totaled $988.65.  Finally, given the OGS’ fraudulent conduct, I order that Ms. Thompson’s rights to enforce this judgment shall survive OGS’ bankruptcy, pursuant to s. 178(1)(d) and (e) of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, RSC 1985, c B-3.”
Security in the amount of $28,000.00 had also been registered against Thompson’s property. That vastly exceeded the amount of the air conditioner and the water heater.
Punitive damages were also awarded in the amount of $10,000.00.
This happens a lot. This case is not unusual. Renting out components of a house seems to be the world’s most profitable business. Buy your furnace, air conditioner and water heater, don’t rent them. It sounds good, but ultimately you will pay double, triple or quadruple the price.
You can appreciate why some companies go “over the top” to deceive their customers.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker