Before purchasing a home in Ontario, most prospective buyers will hire a home inspector to ensure the property’s systems – heating, ventilation, electrical, septic, etc… – are functioning as expected. Like a good real estate lawyer, a professional home inspector can supply peace of mind to buyers.
This April, the Province of Ontario passed the Home Inspection Act, 2017, a set of rules to regulate home inspections for the first time. Previously, the home inspection industry was something of a Wild West. “In Ontario, anyone with a business card and a flashlight can be a home inspector,” wrote the Toronto Star’s Bob Aaron in an April 2016 article. “There is no requirement for training, competence, insurance or regulation.”
As an experienced real estate lawyer could tell you, this state of affairs put home buyers at risk and undermined the larger home inspection industry by making it more difficult for well-trained, professional home inspectors to do their job. The establishment of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) aimed to improve accountability in the industry – the OAHI called for licensing for years – but membership to the organization was voluntary.
Prior to passing the Home Inspection Act this year, Queen’s Park seemed averse to pushing regulation: a panel was formed to investigate the matter in 2013 and made 35 recommendations; no action was taken until 2015, when the panel reconvened to affirm them.
It wasn’t until Trinity-Spadina MPP Han Dong introduced a private member’s bill to regulate the home inspection industry in March 2016 that lawmakers took concrete action. Legislation was introduced in August of that year and passed last month.
“The Putting Consumers First Act [which enacts the Home Inspection Act, 2017] strengthens consumer protection at home and in the marketplace,” said Minister of Government and Consumer Services Tracy MacCharles in a release announcing the legislation. “New regulations will ensure that people aren’t being taken advantage of through unsolicited door-to-door sales – that home buyers get regulated home inspection services – and that consumers receive fair and transparent payday loan and debt collection options.”
The new legislation imposes qualifications for home inspectors and establishes minimum standards for home inspection contracts, reports, disclosures, and performance. It also states that home inspectors must now be licensed and insured.
All of this is excellent news for home buyers and their real estate lawyer – if unlicensed home inspections supplied peace of mind, home inspections regulated by stringent Government of Ontario standards will ensure consumers receive experienced professional advice and are made well aware of any issues with their homes.
If you have questions or comments regarding home inspections, the 2017 Home Inspection Act, or the process of purchasing a property, feel free to contact Nanda & Associate today to learn how you could benefit from the assistance of an experienced real estate lawyer.