On April 13, 2017, Ontario’s legislature gave royal assent to the Home Inspection Act (“HIA”). The HIA is an attempt to regulate the home inspection industry- an industry often criticised for falling outside of a regulator’s purview. The goal of the HIA is to protect consumers purchasing home inspection services by providing more transparency and accountability to the home inspection industry.
The problems associated with deficient home inspections and reporting have been known for decades. In 2005, the Supreme Court of Canada discussed the case of Li v Baker Street Home Inspection Services,  OJ No 3846. In this case, the home purchaser had an inspection completed prior to closing. After closing, the purchasers opened a sealed hatch to access the attic and discovered damaged roof joists. The plaintiff alleged that the home inspector breached their standard of care, by failing to inspect or report the roof’s structural problems. The plaintiff’s claim was ultimately dismissed, however the case provides a good starting point to discuss problems associated with home inspections. Home inspection issues usually result from inadequate inspection or inadequately disclosing the inspection results to the purchaser. The incoming Act will attempt to eliminate these issues by imposing a uniform standard of inspection and reporting.
Until recently, anyone could become a home inspector and offer inspection services to the public; presently, home inspectors are not required to be licensed or registered with any governing body. The Act will change this by mandating home inspectors are licensed, insured, and regulated. Under the Act, home inspectors will be required to uphold a code of ethics and provide certified inspection reports to homeowners and/or purchasers. Hopefully, the Act will stop fly-by-night home inspectors that lack the knowledge and experience required to properly inspect a dwelling.
At present, there are several trade organizations that home inspectors can join, including the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors. These organizations are self-regulating member organizations with voluntary participation. Historically, these organizations have pushed for legislative controls on home inspections and inspectors. The incoming Act catches up to the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors by legislating regulatory oversight and making participation mandatory.
The HIA will enable the government of Ontario to create or designate a regulatory organization to oversee the home inspection profession. Under the Act, the relationship between home inspectors and their regulatory body will be similar to the relationship between Real Estate Agents and the Real Estate Council of Ontario. When the Act comes into force, prospective purchasers can look forward to enhanced protection when engaging a home inspector’s services.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter and is not legal advice. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your specific circumstance.