Li­cens­ing for home in­spec­tors con­sid­ered

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - ARI MARANTZ

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.

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