The weather is cooling down but the Toronto housing market saw double digit growth this past month. During the frenzy of home buying, due diligence is necessary and hiring the right home inspector could be forgotten from the long list of to-dos. This can be a costly mistake as a negligently conducted home inspection could cost the buyer thousands of dollars in unexpected repairs.
The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors does regulate its approximate 500 members, however membership is voluntary. In total, there are approximately 1500 home inspectors in Ontario; however anyone can call themselves a home inspector and buyers could rely on them to make the biggest financial purchase of their lives.
Ontario has recently passed the Home Inspection Act, 2017 (the "Act") to regulate home inspectors and is predicted to come into force in 2020 after the regulations have been drafted and proclaimed. The Act will create minimum standards when it comes to the licensing and regulation of home inspectors in Ontario.
Once in effect, individuals cannot conduct home inspections without a registered license and liability insurance. Requirements will include education, training and adherence to a code of ethics. Formal contracts with the buyer or seller will also be required prior to conducting a home inspection. And once the inspection is concluded, a report must also be provided.
The Act also provides for a complaints and disciplinary mechanism so that clients can report a negligent licensee. The registrar will have the authority to mediate in order to resolve complaints, provide written warnings, require licensees to take further educational courses or refer the matter to a discipline committee. Once at the discipline committee stage, the licensing body will have further powers to impose a maximum fine of $25,000 if a licensee has failed to comply with the code of ethics.
As a home buyer, once you have the building inspector's report, it is advisable to bring it to a lawyer for review. If there is a leaky basement, there are a number of different courses of action that can be taken. You can insist that the repairs be made before closing, negotiate an abatement, prepare a repair fund in advance, or move on to the next home.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.