The ASHI Code of Ethics Committee is charged with developing ethics education and awareness for ASHI members and with answering Requests for Interpretation (RFI) of our Code of Ethics.
When serious questions arise about the intent and applicability of the revised code, members are encouraged to review previous requests and responses on the ASHI Members Only Web site under Resources. If there has not been a request for an interpretation to a similar situation, members may submit their question using the required RFI form, which can be found under Downloads/ASHI Forms & Documents.
Three requests received by the committee appear below. The responses are based on the new Code of Ethics, approved in June 2004.
— Bill Loden, chair, 2008 ASHI Code of Ethics Committee
Request for Interpretation
e060329 Reporting a Crime
Do home inspectors have an obligation under the Code to report evidence of a crime, such as a drug operation, to the authorities if the evidence is uncovered during a home inspection? Response
While the Code of Ethics does not directly require an inspector to report a crime to law enforcement, there may well be a legal obligation to report evidence of a crime to the appropriate law enforcement agency, depending upon the circumstances. Any determination of such responsibility is beyond the scope of this committee. The Code does direct inspectors to uphold the reputation and practice of the home inspection profession and to act in good faith toward each client and other interested parties. In light of the potential impact of such findings on the parties to the sale and to the public, each inspector should give serious consideration to reporting evidence of a crime to the appropriate authorities as a part of his/her civic responsibilities, as well as reporting observations in regard to such activities to his or her client.Request for Interpretation
e070226 Discount Coupons
Do discount coupons provided only to realty agents who meet specific requirements violate the CoE 1.C, which prohibits direct or indirect compensation to realty agents? Response
Discount coupons distributed to realty agents to be redeemed by homebuyers, rather than the agents, whatever the scheme devised for distribution, do not constitute compensation and do not violate the Code of Ethics. While such coupons could be viewed as an inducement to referrals, the realty agent is not receiving compensation. Request for Interpretation
e070824 Discounts to agent-clients
As a marketing tool, can I extend a discount to real estate agents who pay for their client’s listing inspection? Response
Offering discounts to clients, whomever they may be, is a part of normal business practice and does not constitute a conflict of interest or a violation of the Code of Ethics. However, when the person paying for the inspection is not the owner or buyer of the inspected property, it is important to remember that the inspector is responsible to “act in good faith toward the client and other interested parties,” per principle 2. in the Code of Ethics. It is recommended that the inspector ensure that the identity of the client is understood by the parties to the sale in order to prevent any misunderstanding regarding the inspector’s responsibility to his or her client, including confidentiality regarding inspection results.