August, 2006
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Focus on Ethics

KEITH OBERG

In addition to developing ethics education and awareness for ASHI’s membership, the ASHI Code of Ethics Committee is charged with answering Requests for Interpretation (RFI), of our Code of Ethics. The first RFI below references ASHI’s Bylaws regarding the conflicts of interest that become almost inevitable if one is actively engaged in profiting from real estate sales and in providing home inspection services. The second RFI addresses the ethical lapse inherent in violating ASHI’s logo use policy.


In our Focus on Ethics articles, we present requests with the responses developed by the committee since the new Code of Ethics was approved. Our membership is encouraged to submit an RFI to the committee if a serious question about the intent and applicability of the Code should arise. The necessary form is available at the ASHI Web site under Downloads/ASHI Forms & Documents.


—Keith A. Oberg, Chair 2006 ASHI Code of Ethics Committee


Request for interpretation

Fees for Referrals
Is it acceptable for a member who maintains an inactive real estate sales license, but does not engage in real estate transactions, to receive fees for the referral of clients to real estate brokers?     

Response
It is a violation of ASHI Bylaws for an inspector to be active in the real estate sales business. This injunction recognizes an inherent conflict of interest in the purposes of the two professions that is broad, and is not limited to direct conflicts of interest regarding the sale of specific inspected properties. If real estate law in your state recognizes the receipt of such referral fees as active engagement in the sale of real estate, then such activity would be in violation of ASHI Bylaws.   

Request for interpretation

Yellow Pages™ Logo Use
Is it a violation of the Code of Ethics for Candidates to use business phone numbers purchased from retired ASHI Members, whose phone book listings include the ASHI logo, to gain clients?       

Response
The acceptable use of ASHI’s logo is strictly regulated by the Society under its Logo Use Policy. The Code of Ethics addresses the use of the logo only in general principle, as described in 3.A. “Advertising, marketing and promotion of inspectors’ services or qualifications shall not be fraudulent, false, deceptive or misleading.”  Purchasing and using an out-of-business ASHI Member’s phone numbers, with phone book listings that include the logo, when the purchaser has not earned the right to use that logo, would clearly be fraudulent, deceptive or misleading, and in violation of the Code.