Buyer Beware: Understanding NOSIs and Predatory HVAC and HVAC-Related Agreements - Sotos Class Actions
March 15, 2024

Buyer Beware: Understanding NOSIs and Predatory HVAC and HVAC-Related Agreements

In recent years, concerns have arisen regarding an alarming trend of predatory door-to-door sales practices with respect to rental agreements for HVAC and HVAC-related agreements in Ontario.

How it Works

The interaction with consumers is common. Generally, a sales representative in some kind of uniform will come to a homeowner’s door offering to lease or sell certain HVAC or HVAC-related equipment such as water heaters, air conditioners, water filtration systems, and so on. These representatives will then use high-pressure tactics and misinformation to convince consumers to enter into contracts for this equipment without disclosing to consumers certain material information, including that a Notice of Security Interest (NOSI) can and likely will be registered on the title to their homes.

Typically, the equipment is installed very shortly after a consumer signs the agreement, sometimes even on the same day. This is despite the mandatory 10-day cooling off period required for all direct consumer agreements[1] (which is often not honoured by these companies).

After these contracts are signed, consumers will uphold their obligations and pay monthly fees for the equipment they received. What they don’t know, however, is that a NOSI may have been registered on the title to their home, and the monthly payments they make may never be applied to the total cost of the equipment should they want to get out of their contract.

Although these practices may affect all homeowners, the victims of these companies are typically vulnerable individuals, including older adults, immigrants, and persons with disabilities.

What is a Notice of Security Interest (NOSI)?

NOSIs operate in the predatory HVAC market similarly to liens and are used as financial collateral by lenders against affected consumers. However, a NOSI is not a lien as it does not provide its holder with an interest in the land or the right to any proceeds from a sale of the land. It is simply the instrument used to register a security interest in the Land Titles Registry in order to signal to others that there is a fixture on the land is subject to a security interest.[2] Generally, before the sale or re-financing of a home, NOSIs are required to be discharged for the transaction to proceed.

For many homeowners, they do not learn that a NOSI is registered on their title until they try to refinance or sell their home, as that is the only time most consumers will obtain a copy of their title documents. In these situations, where consumers must discharge the NOSI to finalize property sale or refinancing, certain companies exploit these circumstances by pressuring consumers into negotiating a buyout of the entire contract, which can lead to unreasonably high payouts. In many cases, consumers are asked to pay thousands of dollars over the actual value of the equipment under the consumer agreements.

Developments from the Ontario Government

In the Fall of 2023, the Ontario government launched a public consultation on the use of NOSIs.[3]This consultation included a consultation paper outlining the problems with the improper uses of NOSIs, and noting that the goal of the consultation was to gather feedback to support new approaches aimed at addressing consumer harms associated with the improper use of NOSIs.[4]

On March 5, 2024, the NDP tabled Bill 169, Removing Red Tape for Homeowners (No More Pushy, High-Pressure HVAC Scams) Act, 2024.[5] The bill proposes to retroactively prohibit the use of NOSIs for consumer goods, including by introducing a mechanism directing the registrar to discharge a NOSI in response to a written request from a consumer.

The same day, the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, Todd McCarthy, confirmed that the Ontario government is planning to retroactively prohibit NOSIs in a forthcoming bill. In particular, Minister McCarthy has noted that the government is unable to distinguish between the proper and intended use of NOSIs and the “improper, fraudulent, criminal use” prevalent today.[6] At this time, it is not yet clear what Minister McCarthy’s bill may include and how it departs from the bill proposed by the NDP.

Resources Available to Consumers

In order to check if you have a NOSI on your title, you must do a parcel registry search of your property through the Ontario government. You can obtain a parcel registry search using the Ontario Land Property Records Portal.[7] Once you find your address, you can purchase the parcel registry search for approximately $40.00.

The parcel registry will note the ownership history of your title, as well as any mortgages, liens, and security interests that have been registered. If there is a NOSI registered on your title, it will appear on this document and specify what company has registered it.

If you require assistance with respect to a NOSI or a consumer agreement relating to HVAC and HVAC-related equipment, please consider the following:

  1. A class action has been brought by Sotos Class Actions in respect of certain companies alleged to have engaged in the predatory practices described above. For more information about the class action and to register for more information, please visit:
  2. Pro Bono Ontario is an organization which provides free legal services for qualified individuals. They have a dedicated team helping consumers with predatory agreements and NOSIs. You can reach them at:
  3. For qualified individuals, you can seek advice from the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly (ACE). ACE provides legal services for low-income older adults in the Greater Toronto Area (or outside the GTA in some circumstances). ACE’s legal services include summary legal advice, brief legal services, referrals, and legal representation. You can find out more at:
  4. Please consider voicing your support for legislative intervention by contacting your local Member of Provincial Parliament:

[1] Consumer Protection Act, 2002, S.O. 2002, c. 30, Sched. A, s. 43(1).
[2] Personal Property Security Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. P.10, s. 54(1).
[5] Bill 169, Removing Red Tape for Homeowners (No More Pushy, High-Pressure HVAC Scams) Act, 2024, 1st Sess, 43rd Parl, 2024 (first reading 5 March 2024).
[6] Jessica Smith Cross, “Ontario to retroactively ban lien used in ‘virtual home invasions’: Minister”, The Trillium (March 5, 2024), online: