October, 2007
Ethics
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Report Verification

KEITH OBERG

The ASHI Code of Ethics Committee is charged with developing ethics education and awareness for ASHI members and answering Requests for Interpretation (RFI) of our Code of Ethics. Two requests received by the committee within the last year appear below. Both address issues of identification.

In the first, the committee finds that “inspection information” has no meaning in regard to the injunction against unauthorized release unless the information includes identification of the site or the client.
In the second, identifying the client is essential to ensure that the home inspector is not inadvertently violating the client’s interests.

In each of our monthly Focus on Ethics articles, we present one or more RFIs and the responses developed by the committee since the new Code of Ethics was approved. Our membership is encouraged to submit RFIs to the committee if serious questions 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, 2007 ASHI Code of Ethics Committee

Request for Interpretation

e070204 Inspection results for report verification

The code is very clear that “Inspectors shall not disclose inspection results or client information without client approval.” But to further my classification I was told I have to submit selected inspection reports for ASHI review. I believe if I submit confidential inspection results I will be in violation of the Code of Ethics. Is providing inspection results or client information to anyone (including ASHI) other than the client (and whomever the client approves) a violation of the ASHI Code of Ethics?”

Response


The purpose of the Code provision barring disclosure of inspection results is to protect the interests of the client. The ASHI report verification process does not require disclosure of any client or inspection site identification. If the inspection report submitted to ASHI has no client or site identification information, the interests of the client could not be compromised. The term “inspection results” has no meaning with regard to inspection clients or other parties to a sale unless the document includes identifying names and addresses; therefore, there would be no violation of the Code of Ethics.

Request for Interpretation

e070413 Identifying the client

A real estate agent recently paid a fee for an inspection I performed. This apparently was a service she was providing for her clients. The buyers were not paying for the inspection. Is this a conflict of interest under 1.B, or 1.D of the Code? At the time of the inspection, I had no idea who actually was paying until I asked for the payment.

Response

The committee finds no violation of the Code of Ethics. There is no evidence that payment was contingent on specific inspection findings per 1.B of the Code, nor is there evidence that payment was being made by the real estate agent without agreement between the parties per 1.D of the Code. However, the inspector has specific responsibilities to his or her client, especially with regard to disclosure of inspection results per 2.C. This requires clear understanding and agreement as to which party is the client.