November, 2008
Ethics
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



Working for a firm that provides closing services

BILL LODEN

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. Three requests received by the committee within the last year appear below. Like so many of the requests, these deal with business relationships. The responses are based on the new Code of Ethics, approved in June 2004.

When serious questions arise about the intent and applicability of the revised code, members are encouraged to review previous requests and responses on the ASHI Members Only Web site under Resources. If there has not been a request for an interpretation to a similar situation, please submit your question using the required RFI form, which can be found under Downloads/ASHI Forms & Documents. We will continue to provide the members with the committee’s response to the questions posed by their fellow home inspectors.


— Bill Loden, chair, 2008 ASHI Code of  Ethics Committee


Request for Interpretation
e061003 Working for a firm that provides closing services

Is it a conflict of interest for an ASHI inspector to work for a company that provides title, mortgages, valuation, closings, flood zone determination, foreclosure, bankruptcy and tax services, as well as home inspections?

Response

It is not a violation of the Code of Ethics to work for, or associate with, a firm that provides other real estate services.  However, if the firm profits from services that are specifically dependent on the closing or settlement of real estate, such as the selling of mortgages, the inspector may be placing himself in a position where he has a financial interest in ensuring that the inspected property goes to closing.  This would clearly represent a conflict of interest for the inspector, would be a violation of the Code, and could result in compromising the unsuspecting consumer’s interest in a fully independent and impartial home inspection.

Request for Interpretation
e070315 Renting from real estate brokers

We are considering renting office cubicle space from a licensed realty company. We would be the only inspection company in a full-facility office.  Is this a conflict of interest or possibly a violation of ethics or law?

Response

Renting office space from a real estate agency does not violate any specific provision of the Code of Ethics unless the arrangement involves a quid pro quo agreement to refer the home inspector, or involves payment of more than fair market value for the space, indicating that such an arrangement likely exists. However, the practice is not recommended since it could appear to compromise professional independence and the integrity of the inspection.  Also, with regard to the law, we suggest you consult with an attorney in your home state.

Request for Interpretation
070320 Relationship with real estate broker organizatio
n
We, as an ASHI chapter, want to approach the local real estate organization about placing a link on its Web site to our chapter Web site.  We have 17 members and this gives everyone equal exposure in our locale.  If this is acceptable, what if they ask for advertising compensation or a donation?

Response

The committee finds no violation of the Code of Ethics.  Maintaining constructive relationships with other professional organizations in related fields is good for the profession.  Paying for advertising or for promotion of inspectors’ services or qualifications does not violate the Code so long as such advertising is not fraudulent, false, deceptive or misleading per 3.A of the Code.

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What are Requests for Interpretation (RFIs)?

ASHI members may file a Request For Interpretation (RFI) for either the Standards of Practice (SoP) or Code of Ethics (CoE) when an issue may seem unclear or undefined by the SoP or CoE. These requests will be reviewed by the respective committees and ASHI legal counsel.

Filing an RFI

The committees understand that you desire a quick response, but please be advised they have multiple requests and, because the SoP and CoE are vital to ASHI, interpretations must be performed with extreme care. Before filing an RFI, you are strongly encouraged to review past interpretations that are posted in their respective section, SoP or CoE. You may also perform a quick keyword search in the search function that will search both sections.

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