In 2017, Ohio State Representative Jim Hughes experienced what he felt was a “bad” home inspection (please note that the inspection was not performed by an ASHI home inspector) and, as a result, he proposed that licensing was needed for home inspectors in Ohio and sponsored a bill (Ohio House Bill [HB] 211) that was referred to committee for review.
Upon hearing about this pending legislation, representatives of the three ASHI chapters in Ohio (Ohio ASHI, Southern Ohio ASHI and North Central Ohio Chapter of ASHI) formed the Joint Chapter Legislative Committee (JCLC) to determine a plan of action. Working in common interest, we reached an agreement to retain a lobbyist and began to work in earnest.
It became evident that the JCLC could not be considered a neutral party, so we decided to consult our various chapters’ members about whether we should be opponents or proponents of Ohio HB 211. After disseminating information and fostering discussion, we found that the majority of chapter members felt that if licensing was inevitable, then the JCLC should be at the table as proponents to help craft a bill with reasonable requirements and expectations.
Next, we consulted with Joe Denneler, a friend and defender of many Ohio inspectors, and an attorney familiar with licensing bills. His professional opinion was invaluable. Long story short, we found alternatives and solutions, suggested amendments, and identified deletions and additions (see list in the box).
Suggested amendments and identified deletions and additions
- The licensing board makeup will have five licensed home inspectors and two public members.
- The limit of liability will be one year from the date of the inspection.
- The requirement for errors and omissions (E&O) insurance was replaced with a recovery fund.
- There is a 120-day “grandfathering” opportunity.
- There is a requirement to pass the National Home Inspection Examination (NHIE).
- When a real estate agent refers a client for a home inspection, they must provide the client with contact information for a minimum of three licensed home inspectors.
- An agreement was reached with the Ohio Association of Realtors to craft the bill and amend it (in the future) to include non-interference language.
- The example of Ohio HB 211 is currently being used to craft and rewrite licensing bills in other states.
During this process, the JCLC provided proponent testimony multiple times and met with staff from the Ohio Department of Commerce, as well as the Division of Real Estate and Professional Licensing. We also met individually with committee members, presented to the Senate committee and, with the help of our lobbyist, kept tabs on the process and progress of HB 211.
Ultimately, the Ohio House of Representatives passed HB 211 and referred it to the Ohio Senate, where the Senate amended it into HB Bill 255 and passed it. At the writing of this article, the governor has signed the bill and now the process of enactment begins. We are pleased with the results and will watch for regulations to be in place by late 2019 or early 2020.
In closing, I would like to thank the Ohio Chapter Presidents—BK Thompson, Chris Green and Paul Wancata—as well as the members of the JCLC—Phil Wells, Rod Whittington, Dave Beck, Ken Harrington, Mike Hesterberg, Mike Patton, Mike Connolly and Steve Lees (secretary). Also, many thanks go to our lobbyist, David Hoeffel, and to ASHI 2018 President Tim Buell for his testimony and support.
Blaine Swan, Chair, Ohio ASHI Chapters’
Joint Chapter Legislative Committee