The Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI) is a self-regulating body that governs registered home inspectors in Ontario. In its own words, “The OAHI has the exclusive right to define qualification requirements, regulate its members and grant the designation ‘Registered Home Inspector’ and ‘RHI’ to qualified practitioners in the Province of Ontario.” This sounds great. Wouldn’t you, as a consumer, feel comforted to know that person advising you on functional integrity of the home you are about to purchase is educated and registered? Isn’t it nice to know that there is a governing body ensuring basic education requirements? But, there’s a catch. The OAHI is opt-in. Home inspectors are not required to be regulated. As it stands now, any person could print out some letterhead and call themselves a home inspector. Of course, this can and does have grave consequences for the consumer. Home inspectors without proper education can miss important deficiencies with the home. They can also falsely identify something as a problem (mistaking stereo wire for knob and tube, or an old water main for a buried oil tank to give some real-life examples) that causes you as the consumer to miss out on the opportunity to buy your dream home.
Home inspectors are one of the only professionals who get involved with the purchase of a property that are not licensed.
For example, Real estate agents are licensed and as such are required to have errors and omissions insurance and must abide by a code of ethics (Real Estate Business Brokers Act, 2002). A real estate agent can not operate in secret, must provide proof of a police check and must have their legal name on all documents and marketing materials. They must renew their license every two years. The same is true for mortgage brokers and lawyers. None of this is true for home inspectors, which means that if you hire a home inspector who has not opted-in to the OAHI you literally have no idea who you are getting. Furthermore, you would have little recourse if the home inspector gave you bad advice.
The good news is that the government of Ontario has introduced legislation to license home inspectors and to be overseen by an independent regulatory authority, very similar to the OAHI. Of course, licensing will not ensure good quality home inspectors across the board. It will, however, set out basic standards of competency and it will provide a code of ethics to better protect the consumer.
Until this legislation passes, and we very much hope it will be passed, we will continue to only recommend OAHI registered home inspectors to our clients. Please contact us for our recommendations.