Prior to April 5, 2019, the home inspection industry was generally unregulated in Ohio. An individual could perform home inspections without any formal training, leaving home buyers to merely “trust” that a home inspector had appropriate experience, thus potentially jeopardizing one of the most important transactions a consumer can make. The industry landscape changed when Governor Kasich signed Senate Bill 255 (Jan. 4, 2019), which included the new Home Inspector Law (“Law”), providing a legal framework to regulate the Ohio home inspector industry and protect consumers.
Ohio Home Inspector Law Overview:
- Requires home inspectors to obtain a license.
- Establishes criminal penalties for performing home inspections without a license and making false statements concerning a person’s licensure as a home inspector.
- Creates the Ohio Home Inspector Board (the “Board”) and authorizes it to regulate the licensure and performance of home inspectors.
- Requires a written contract between a licensed home inspector and a client before an inspection is performed.
- Requires real estate brokers or salespersons to provide the names of at least three licensed home inspectors if they provide a client with any referral to a home inspector.
- Requires the home inspector to provide a written report of the inspector’s visual examination of the premises.
- Prohibits any person from performing a home inspection unless the inspection conforms to requirements for conducting home inspections, standards of practice, and prohibitions against conflicts of interest.
- The Law prohibits any person from performing a home inspection without a written contract between the inspector and the client.
So what about home inspectors who have been performing inspections prior to the effective date of the Law?
Senate Bill 255 does allow for “grandfathering” in experienced home inspectors. Within 120 days after the date the last initial Board member is appointed (which cannot be later than July 5, 2019), a currently practicing home inspector can seek a license by satisfying special requirements that will only be applicable during this 120-day period.
The Law also contains certain reciprocity rules, allowing home inspectors who hold licenses issued by other states to become licensed in Ohio if the other states have home inspector licensing laws that are similar to Ohio’s Law and certain other requirements are met.
Penalties applicable to licensed home inspectors for violations of the Law include a public reprimand, a fine of up to $1,000, and the suspension or revocation of a license. If an unlicensed person violates the Law, the Board may impose a fine on the person of up to $500 per violation per day. The Law also imposes criminal penalties. Performing a home inspection without a license is a fifth degree misdemeanor as well as knowingly making a false representation concerning a material and relevant fact relating to a person’s licensure
The Law requires the Board to adopt additional rules, so more guidance will be forthcoming and, once released, will be set forth in the Ohio Administrative Code.
Please contact your Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP attorney with any questions about this new Law, or if you want to review your existing contracts for compliance with the new Law or create new contracts that comply with the Law.