As we mentioned in February, all 50 states are in session in 2005. It promises to be a lively year. Already, 16 states have introduced bills affecting our profession. The most significant are four new licensing bills in Florida, Michigan, Nebraska and Tennessee, and a registration bill in North Dakota. Following is a summary of the most important legislation introduced thus far. Note: space does not permit detail on where the bills are in the legislative process, nor descriptions of bills not directly regulating inspectors (for example, mold bills). For these details, please go to the individual state pages in the ASHI Legislative Action Center, www.homeinspectorregulation.com.Alaska HB 81
gives the Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development the power to fine individuals who engage in home inspection activities, but fail to register as home inspectors. Under this bill, in addition to incurring fines, one would also be guilty of a class B misdemeanor for failing to register.
HB 81 also gives the department the ability to enjoin persons from acting as home inspectors if they are in violation of the home inspector regulations. A civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for each violation can be imposed on an offender. Each day the unlawful act continues constitutes a separate violation.Connecticut HB 6514
would increase enforcement power against individuals who repeatedly work without required licenses. The bill would make it a class A misdemeanor to engage in or practice work for which a license is required without obtaining the proper license. The bill also gives the court power to impose a probation for a period of not more than five years on any violator that cannot repay his or her “victim” within a specified time period. Delaware HCR 3
extends the reporting date for the Consumer and Commercial Home Inspector Task Force from November 2, 2004, to March 15, 2005. The purpose of the task force is to determine the need for establishing a board or committee to regulate and license home inspectors in the State of Delaware. The task force consists of three members from the House and Senate, as well as the presidents (or their designees) of the Delaware Association of Realtors®, Home Builder’s Association, Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, and American Society of Home Inspectors First State Association.Florida SB 110
requires the Florida Building Commission to review construction practices and home and building inspections, and make recommendations to improve those practices and inspections. Florida HB 315
While the Florida Legislature does not convene until March 8, 2005, legislation regarding home inspections was pre-filed on January 12, 2005.
HB 315 would create the Florida Home Inspection Advisory Council. The council would be responsible for developing standards of practice and assist in review of complaints against home inspectors. It would consist of eight home inspectors with at least five years of experience, one consumer member, and one non-voting member from the staff department.
The bill would also establish licensure and continuing education requirements for home inspectors. To become a licensed home inspector, a person must be of good moral character, have successfully completed high school or equivalent, have completed a course of study of at least 90 hours, and have passed an examination that meets the standards of the Council of Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation. The bill also outlines grandfather requirements. In order to obtain a license under these requirements, the person must have been engaged in home inspection for at least three years, have performed more than 250 home inspections and have completed an examination that meets the standards of the Council of Licensure, Enforcement and Regulation. To keep a home inspection license, one must complete at least 14 hours of continuing education during each calendar year.
HB 315 also states a home inspector must maintain a commercial general liability insurance policy of no less than $300,000. Also outlined in the bill are prohibited acts of businesses employing home inspectors, and disciplinary procedures for violating home inspecting rules. If passed by the Florida Legislature and signed by the Governor, the legislation would go into effect July 1, 2005. Michigan HB 4076 and HB 4077
On January 27, two bills were introduced by Representative Accavitti that would affect home inspectors.
HB 4076 defines home inspection and home inspection services. This legislator introduced an identical bill last session. The bill creates the Home Inspectors Board that will issue licenses to home inspectors. An individual cannot perform home inspection services without a license after 180 days of the bill taking effect. The Home Inspector Board and the governing department will promulgate rules to set minimum standards for education and experience regarding eligibility for licensure as well as standards for the examination of individuals who do not meet the education and work requirements. HB 4076 requires a home inspector to furnish a “disclosure statement” and outlines criteria for the statement. The bill also outlines contract provisions that a home inspector is required to provide. If passed by the House and Senate, the bill would go into effect on October 1, 2005.
Representative Accavitti also introduced HB 4077, which sets the fees for home inspectors seeking licensure. The following fees would be enacted: $40 application processing fee, $50 examination fee, $20 examination review fee and $210 annual license fee. Representative Accavitti introduced a similar bill last session; however, the fees have increased. The bill from last session would have enacted the same examination fees, but only a $15 application-processing fee and a $40 annual license fee.Nebraska LB 660
, titled the “Home Inspector Licensing Act,” details licensure requirements for home inspectors. The bill seeks to create the Nebraska Home Inspection Licensing Board, which would oversee home inspector licensing in Nebraska. The board would also be responsible for developing a code of ethics and standards of practice, and establishing home inspector licensing fees. The bill states the term limits and conditions for board appointments.
LB 660 would establish licensure and continuing education requirements for home inspectors. In order to become a licensed home inspector a person must be at least 21 years old; have successfully completed high school or an equivalent; have completed a course of study of at least 60 hours; have passed an examination that meets the standards prescribed by the board; and have provided a certificate of insurance for general liability insurance and surety bond. LB 660 details the conditions of acceptable insurance policies.
The bill states that home inspector licenses shall expire two years after issuance. To keep a home inspector license, one must complete at least 20 hours of continuing education every two years. The board shall establish criteria for approving providers of continuing education for home inspectors. No exam is required to renew a license.
LB 660 states that the home inspector shall not be liable for any latent defects contained in the observable systems and components of improvements to residential real property that he or she has inspected. However, home inspectors are liable for damage or injury caused by any unlawful acts, negligence or misconduct. Also outlined in the bill are the disciplinary procedures for violating home inspecting rules.
A person must be in compliance with LB 660 by January 1, 2006. If one does not meet the conditions of this act and engages in home inspection activities after this date, the person is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. If by January 1, 2006, a person is engaged in the business of performing home inspections, he or she has 90 days after that date to comply with the Home Inspector Licensing Act. Such a person is not required to take an examination if he or she has conducted 50 fee-paid home inspections and has passed a test approved by the board administered by a nationally recognized home inspection testing agency.
LB 660 is similar to ASHI’s model legislation in that it contains some of the model’s
critical elements, although it falls slightly short of fulfilling all requirements. The bill would create standards of practice and a code of ethics. However, the bill does not meet ASHI’s model legislation’s education minimums (only 60, not 80, hours of continuing education are required). LB 660 would require the board to develop a home inspector licensing examination, although it does not state the exam must be the National Home Inspector Exam.New York S 160
amends the new home inspector licensing law. A 1264 is the identical house companion bill. This bill is identical to S 7771 and A 11878, which were introduced late last year. As you may recall, the legislation makes “technical changes” to the law that passed last year. The leaders in both houses and the Governor have agreed on the changes. S160 adds a $50 fee for the home inspector exam; authorizes the Governor, as well as the Assembly Speaker and Senate President, to appoint members to the Home Inspector Council; authorizes the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Home Inspector Council, to approve the course of study, exam and continuing education requirements; clarifies provisions for enforcement of the new act; and sets the effective date at December 31, 2005. S 160 was referred to the Committee on Judiciary. North Dakota HB 1507
states the requirements for home inspector registration. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, submit proof of errors and omissions insurance coverage, and pay a $200 fee. These registration requirements do not apply to individuals employed as state or political subdivision code enforcements officials or individuals licensed or registered under this title when acting within the scope of practice of that individual’s profession.
Registration would expire June 30 of each calendar year and can be renewed with submission of a $50 fee and proof of continuous insurance coverage. Under HB 1507, the Secretary of State would adopt rules that require home inspectors to carry errors and omissions insurance covering all home inspection activities after July 31, 2005.
The bill also provides a penalty for home inspectors that fail to register. Under this bill, any individual that provides a home inspection without registration is guilty of a class B misdemeanor. Oregon HB 2075
requires the Oregon Construction Contractors Board to adopt minimum standards of practice and professional conduct for certified home inspectors. This amends the existing statute, which calls for the Construction Contractors Board to adopt education, training and examination requirements for the certification of home inspectors.Oregon HB 2076
states that the home inspector certification testing requirements do not apply to a person applying for certification if the person was continuously registered as a general contractor from January 1, 1991, to August 11, 1997, and applies for certification as a home inspector before January 1, 2007. Oregon HB 2200
amends current home inspector and construction contractor statutes to make them clearer. The bill clarifies that the testing and licensing requirements for construction contractor businesses and home inspectors are separate from one another. Tennessee HB 6
, “The Tennessee Home Inspector License Act of 2005,” repeals the current Tennessee home inspector regulations and sets new licensing requirements. The Senate companion bill, SB 302, is identical.
The bill sets forth definitions relating to home inspectors. HB 6 also defines the powers of the Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance in enforcing home inspectors regulations, issuing and suspending licenses, establishing educational standards, adopting a code of ethics and standards for home inspectors, and charging and collecting fees. The commissioner would also be authorized to appoint a committee of experts in the home inspection field to advise the commissioner with rulemaking.
HB 6 also creates requirements for a person to apply for home inspector licensure. An applicants must furnish evidence that he or she is at least 18 years old and has successfully completed high school or equivalent. An Applicant must have no convictions in relation to crimes that have direct bearing on the ability to perform as a licensee, and the applicant cannot be the subject of a disciplinary or enforcement action in connection with the performance or licensing of a home inspector. In addition, an applicant must obtain a certificate of insurance in an amount required by the commissioner for general liability and errors and omissions. The applicants is also required to complete a commissioner-approved 90-hour training program and examination. A Person possessing a contractor’s license issued by the Board for Licensing Contractors are exempt from the training program and examination requirements.
Under this bill, a home inspector’s license would expire every two years. To renew one’s license, one must complete 34 hours of continuing education, obtain a certificate of insurance as required by the commissioner, and have not violated any rules or regulations regarding home inspectors. The bill also defines the prohibited acts that may result in civil penalties, suspension, revocation or refusal of licenses.