In 2010, Florida will become the 32nd state to regulate home inspectors. Unfortunately, in our opinion, the bill signed by the governor in June of this year gives Florida inspectors and the public one of the worst licensing bills in the country. Florida ASHI members and their leaders have been beating back bad bills for years, but this year they were up against overwhelming forces. The good guys don’t always win.
The following is the e-mail alert that Florida ASHI members sent to Governor Crist, urging him to veto the bill. It gives a good rundown of the new law’s flaws and gives ASHI members a list of things they can do to try to change things before the bill takes effect.
Letter to the governor of Florida
I am writing as a Florida member of the American Society of Home Inspectors, the oldest, largest and most-respected professional society of home inspectors in America and in Florida. I have reviewed SB 2234, and I oppose it and urge you to veto it for the following reasons.
This bill does not protect the consumer. In fact, it will harm the consumer.
• NO EXPERIENCE REQUIREMENTS. If this bill passes, anyone can be a state-licensed home Inspector and never have completed a home inspection or even attended a home inspection prior to being licensed. This clearly will harm the consumer.
• LIMITED EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS. An education requirement of only 120 hours is not adequate. As an example, a hair stylist in Florida needs 1,200 hours annually. To properly inspect homes, an extensive knowledge of the various systems and components in homes of all types and ages is required. This limited educational requirement will harm the consumer.
• NO PROVISIONS SPECIFYING WHO IS QUALIFIED TO TRAIN HOME INSPECTORS. This may allow for poor or no relevant education to be provided during the minimal training hours required by this bill. This will clearly harm the consumer.
• NO STANDARDS OF PRACTICE. With no Standards of Practice, what is the consumer paying for? What is to be inspected? How are these items to be inspected? With no Standards of Practice, the consumer will not know what to expect from the home inspector. This clearly will harm the consumer.
• NO CODE OF ETHICS. Without a Code of Ethics, the consumer may be at risk for a number of potential conflicts of interest. As an example, home inspectors who repair the homes they inspect may lose their objectivity and work for their own interests and not their customer’s. Having no Code of Ethics will clearly harm the consumer.
• NO PSYCHOMETRICALLY VALID EXAM. This type of testing for home inspectors has been developed over many years. It is used in most other states and is also used by many professional associations to qualify inspectors. The most widely accepted test in use is known as the National Home Inspector Examination. Without proper and valid testing, the consumer may be harmed.
• WEAK COMPARED TO OTHER STATES. Our parent association, the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), follows home inspector legislation in all states. ASHI rates licensing bills as to educational requirements, experience requirements, ethics training, etc. As written, this bill will be the weakest home inspector legislation in the entire United States. Weak bills harm the consumer.
EXAMPLE: You are purchasing a home. This possibly will be the biggest investment you will ever make. The safety, comfort, and financial well-being of your family are at stake. You hire a state licensed home inspector to help protect your investment. In your mind, the state has rigorously checked, verified, and certified the qualifications of your home inspector. However, if this bill passes, the inspector may have:
• never previously inspected a home
• only completed a three-week course to unknown standards
• no Standards of Practice to follow
• no Code of Ethics to follow
• never completed a psychometrically valid exam
Given these facts, this bill will mislead and harm the consumer. The consumer would be better off with no state licensing that continues to allow the market and professional associations to regulate the industry. This is preferred to being stuck with a bad law that gives a false sense of security.
For more information on ASHI’s strict policies and requirements to become a Certified Home Inspector, you can visit its Web site at www.ashi.org. Many states have mirrored ASHI’s requirements for certification in their legislation. If I can be of any help to you as you move forward with a quality bill that really does good for the consumer, please contact me and I will be glad to assist you any way that I can.
In the meantime, for the protection of the homebuyers in Florida, I respectfully ask that you veto SB 2234.
State sessions wind to a close, but don’t let your guard down
By the end of this month, only seven states — Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania — will still be in session. If you live or inspect in any of those states, stay on guard for any surprises, either in introduced legislation or in legislation introduced at the last minute. Check with ASHI’s Legislative Action Center for updates and make sure you stay in contact with your lobbyist, if you have one, and with your elected officials. Let them know who you are and what you do and how interested you are in any legislation that affects inspectors.