The Ontario government has passed a law that should help bring an extra sense of rest assuredness to current and prospective homeowners.
By a comfortable margin, legislators signed and approved a measure that puts in place specific regulations that home inspectors must satisfy in order to practice. An amendment to the Putting Consumers First Act – a sweeping bill that addresses several key issues the average buyer experiences – the Home Inspection Act of 2017 establishes a set of minimum requirements that corroborate home inspection professionals are both experienced and properly licensed. They must also be insured, so homeowners can pursue the appropriate recourse if an inspection is improperly performed.
Prior to the bill’s passage, virtually anyone could claim to be a home inspection expert, because there was no system in place designed to substantiate inspectors’ qualifications, putting consumers at risk for fraud.
The bill’s approval is being lauded by the home inspection industry, among them the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors, which has long been a proponent of the measure.
“We support the passage of Bill 59, The Putting Consumers First Act, which includes the Home Inspection Act, 2017,” said Murray Parish, OAHI president, in a statement before the law was put to a vote. “We reiterate that OAHI supports the establishment of common competency requirements for all home inspectors to operate in Ontario. Licensing offers a reasonable way of permitting an individual to begin offering home inspection services to the public with the assurance of that basic competency being in place.
The OAHI is the largest home inspection organization in the province.
Other standards Bill 59 puts in motion
In addition to creating basic qualification principles, the Home Inspection Act also mandates that a contract be drawn up, signed both by the homeowner as well as the professional who is conducting the inspection. Additionally, a formal report must be filled out, detailing the inspectors’ findings.
Dan Steward, president and CEO of Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, which is based in Toronto, noted that the legislation is a long time coming.
“This [was] a crucial, necessary step,” Steward explained in a recent press release. “Can you imagine finding out that your dentist took a one day course in dentistry? Your home is your single biggest investment so you absolutely have to protect it with a thorough home inspection before putting down your hard earned money.”
The bill’s passage is not to suggest that current home inspectors aren’t licensed. On the contrary, to receive membership status within the OAHI, the trade group has mandated licensure since 1994, CBC News reported.
Parish told the media organization that Bill 59’s development – which dates back to last summer – was a no-brainer and will make home inspectors more accountable to their customers.
“A true professional is a professional,” Parish said. “If you start cutting corners, you’re going to end up cutting yourself or cutting somebody else. If you walk the straight line, you don’t have to worry about that, right?”
Parish added that the OAHI has a system in place that declassifies members if they run afoul of the trade organization’s code of ethics, to the point of removal, in some instances. Violators of the Home Inspection Act could be fined as much as $25,000, according to CBC News.
Panel recommended more oversight in 2013
Though the newly created rules have yet to go into effect, but will once they receive Royal Assent, it’s the culmination of a 2013 report, released back in 2013 by the Ontario government. A panel recommended at the time most of the elements that Bill 59 puts in place, like education standards of home inspectors and mandatory insurance coverage.
Michael Levitan, who teaches a home inspection class at Algonquin College, said he’s hopeful that the new rules will help re-establish that inspectors’ chief duty isn’t to the person selling or buying the home – but to the property itself.
“My job is not to tell you to buy or not to buy the house,” Levitan told CBC News. “In fact, a good home inspector will tell you that their responsibility is to the home. It’s up to you to decide what to do with that information.”