August, 2005
Legislative News
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



ASHI Membership in Florida Hits a Home Run

BOB KOCIOLEK

New Jersey Steps Up to the Plate

In the July issue, we reported that the members of the ASHI Suncoast Chapter used ASHI’s Legislative Action Center (LAC) to mount a grassroots lobbying effort to defeat a bad inspector bill. Check out the letter from Governor Bush on the next page and the thank-you e-mail below to those who worked so hard in this effort.

Thank You E-Mail:

GOVERNOR VETOES HB315 – HOME INSPECTOR REGULATION
On June 22, 2005, Florida Governor Jeb Bush vetoed House Bill 315 – Building Assessment and Remediation – Home Inspection Services. This could not have been done without the support and assistance of ASHI members statewide. Your calls, e-mails and faxes got the governor’s attention. His staff called the Suncoast ASHI office for more information on home inspectors’ concerns about the regulation and considered those concerns in making his decision to veto. In his veto letter, the governor requested that the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) begin work in cooperation with the legislature and industry to draft regulation. ASHI now has a new opportunity to provide assistance in drafting regulation acceptable to home inspection professionals.

Good work, ASHI members!

Veto Letter from Governor Bush:

June 22, 2005
Ms. Glenda E. Hood
Secretary of State
Department of State
R.A. Gray Building
500 South Bronough Street
Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0250

Dear Secretary Hood:
By the authority vested in me as Governor of Florida, under the provisions of Article III, Section 8, of the Constitution of Florida, I do hereby withhold my approval of and transmit to you with my objections, House Bill 315, enacted during the 107th Session of the Legislature of Florida since statehood in 1845, during the Regular Session of 2005, and entitled:

An act relating to building assessment and remediation . . .

This bill seeks to provide public protection against the possibility of fraudulent practices in the unregulated fields of home inspection, mold assessment, and mold remediation. It provides education requirements and requires liability insurance for home inspectors, mold assessors, and mold remediators, prohibits certain acts which could lead to fraudulent practices, and provides penalties for those acts.

I support efforts to protect the public from unscrupulous business practices and I believe providing strict standards for home inspectors, mold assessors, and mold remediators is warranted.

However, I am concerned that this bill will have unintended consequences, including putting some legitimate and responsible employees out of business. The bill grandfathers some home inspectors but does not provide for the grandfathering of responsible and experienced mold assessors and remediators. This will likely put employees and companies that cannot complete the bill’s education and training requirements by January 1, 2006 out of business.

Additionally, the bill is somewhat ambiguous and does not provide clear guidance to the industry in some areas. For example, the bill does not establish clear educational and examination requirements. While this bill requires training, it contains no specificity with regard to what kinds of curriculum and/or standards are necessary for home inspectors, mold assessors or mold remediators. Further, the bill appears to arbitrarily require high school and college degrees while presenting no clear reason why.

Finally, the bill requires mold assessors to maintain a mold-specific insurance policy and in-contracting mold remediators to maintain a general liability insurance policy with a mold insurance pollution rider, both in an amount of not less than $1 million. There is some question as to whether these policies will be available by the required date of October 1, 2005. There is a further concern that this will have the unintended effect of allowing insurers to deny payments for mold claims under a homeowner policy if work on a home has been performed by a mold assessor or remediator.

Because I agree with the bill’s sponsors that additional consumer protection is warranted in these fields, I have directed Secretary Diane Carr of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to work with various stakeholders during the interim to develop proposed legislation. I encourage legislators to participate in this process and hope that they will work with the department to find a solution that protects the public while providing a constructive business climate in which legitimate and responsible Florida businesses can compete.

For the reasons enunciated, I withhold my support for House Bill 315, and do hereby veto the same.

Sincerely,
Jeb Bush

New Jersey membership steps up to the plate

Now the Southern New Jersey ASHI Chapter has started a similar campaign. Chapter members issued a press release July 10 that opened with the following statement.

“The Southern NJ Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) has asked Acting Governor Cody (sic) not to sign into law A 3983 that provides for state regulation of home inspectors. This legislation is viewed by ASHI members to be too weak to adequately protect the public from unqualified home inspectors.”

This release was the basis for a talking points memo posted on ASHI’s  Legislation Action Center so the New Jersey membership could mount an e-mail campaign to get the ear of the governor. You can read the message on the Action Center here.

A talking points memo is one with suggested text, but it allows the sender to personalize the message. The suggested text is strong, hitting hard at the emaciated experience and education requirements, but note how some creative types in the Garden State have gone ever further to convince the governor:

“If you are going to dilute the licensing requirements, you may as well do away with the licensing law altogether. Why should a consumer be misled into believing he’s getting something he’s not.When a person buys a home, the only friend he has is the home inspector. Why not give him the best friend he can get?”

That’s pretty good. Here’s another:

“As a fully licensed home inspector AND as one of the instructors of the current educational and training criteria in the State of New Jersey, I can tell you firsthand that most students, even after the currently required classroom training, are still not qualified to be a home inspector and many of them will also tell you the same thing. Very often, students wishing to become home inspectors are doing so as a change of career move. The vast majority have absolutely no construction back-ground at all. How can a person with absolutely no background or very limited background in this field be expected to do a proper home inspection and serve the client (homebuyer) he or she was suppose to be protecting? The answer is very simple; they cannot.”

Another:

“When reviewing this bill, please look at this from a consumer’s eye or a lottery system. Do you want to take a chance on having a poorly trained inspector or one that you know has met a rigid and thorough training process inspect the home of your dreams?”

And one more:

“I am a practicing home inspector who entered the business 23 years ago, with a Professional Engineer license, an engineering degree and several years of commercial inspection background. I can’t tell you how little I knew about the proper way to inspect a house. A 3983 would foist off on the homebuying public a spate of licensed inspectors who know much less than I did about how to protect homebuyers. Ultimately, it will damage both the public and the home inspection industry. It will further create a growth industry for attorneys by encouraging lawsuits against unqualified inspectors.”

The Legislative Action Center is giving a voice to members who know how to turn up the volume. We’ll see if the
campaign works as well in New Jersey as it did in Florida.

ASHI exhibits at NCSL


ASHI will exhibit at the National Conference of State Legislator’s annual show, in Seattle, August 17-19, 2005. Members of ASHI’s Legislative Committee will network with more than 6,000 state legislators, staffers and lobbyists, and will distribute the newly revised Position Statement on Regulation of Home Inspectors. This is the place to be to influence the movers and shakers in state politics. Last year ASHI put hundreds of Position Statements in the hands of key legislators and made contacts that were then shared with our chapters. Our goal is to make ASHI known to legislators as the private sector source for all information pertinent to the regulation of home inspectors. By doing this, lawmakers and others interested in regulating inspectors will come to know that any efforts to protect consumers and improve the profession can only succeed with the active participation of the ASHI membership.

We’ll give you a report next issue.