Licensing for home inspectors considered
IN Manitoba, home inspectors currently aren’t licenced. British Columbia, which is the only province that requires a licence, only enacted legislation a little over a year ago.
I tell consumers they should be careful about inspectors who boast that they are licensed or certified — this simply is not true.
Just as anyone can call himself a home inspector, any individual can claim to be certified. While some may have gained this distinction through a reputable education or training program, others have been given this distinction simply by paying a fee to an online organization that signed them up as a certified member. Because the term is so widely used, no group or association has been able to protect the term “certified” in relation to home inspectors. So, it’s meaningless.
A licence to practice home inspections in Manitoba, on the other hand, is something that cannot be claimed because there is no current legislation addressing this issue. That may change in the future, as the provincial government is in the preliminary stages of investigating this requirement.
A recent government-commissioned review, the Neufeld Report, has made several recommendations for changes to the overall process of buying and selling houses in Manitoba. If implemented, recommendations for licensing of home inspectors may dramatically change the landscape.
British Columbia’s distinction as the sole province requiring home inspectors to obtain a government-issued licence may soon be coming to an end. Alberta has been reviewing licensing for the last few years, and a formal committee set up for this purpose is nearing the end if its mandate. Speculation is that the Alberta government will put the finishing touches on licensing requirements before the summer. It’s widely thought its future requirements will mirror those in B.C.
Nova Scotia and Quebec are also on the radar for new requirements for some time, and I’ve recently been told that Saskatchewan is looking at the issue as well. While Manitoba’s licensing process may only be in its infancy, deliberations in other provinces appear to be nearing completion.
How does this affect us in Manitoba? Any new regulations will likely follow the lead of our western neighbours, and some recent changes to licens- ing requirements in B.C. are troubling. While licensing is a favourable mechanism for increased consumer protection, it’s only valid if done properly. But the experience in many U.S. jurisdictions is just the opposite. In an attempt to remain inclusive, many governments have made the mistake of lowering the bar of existing legitimate home-inspector associations when enacting licensing.
Initially, to its credit, the B.C. government did not fall prey to this pitfall. Unfortunately, it appears that after a year of reflection, or perhaps pressure from some groups, their high initial standards have been compromised.
Having just returned from several days of meetings in Ottawa with Canadian Association of Home & Property Inspectors representatives, I’m seeing the effects of licensing changes in B.C. and proposed legislation across the country. There is pressure to lower the current standards. I’m concerned this will also be the prevailing mood of regulators here in Manitoba.
If you have a concern about this lack of regulation, contact your local MLA and voice your opinion. I hope Manitoba home inspectors, including myself, will be licenced within the next couple of years.