New York State Association of Home Inspectors

Welcome to NYSAHI


NYSAHI is the Voice of the Home Inspection Profession in the Empire State.

NYSAHI’s mission is to further public confidence in and trustful reliance on regulated Home Inspection by promoting high standards of professionalism, expertise, and ethical conduct. NYSAHI shall work to advance consumer protection through Home Inspection and generally represent and advocate for NYS licensed practitioners.

NYSAHI is a true not-for-profit and all-volunteer organization. We have no paid Board of Directors or executives profiting from our activities. All funds are used to achieve our Mission. The Board is made up of prominent Home Inspectors who are devoted to protecting and advancing the profession. They are selected to represent the various regions and markets of NY.

Membership in NYSAHI is open to all NYS licensed Home Inspectors. Join NYSAHI Annual dues from Sustaining Members, through their regional/local professional organization, or individually, is our primary revenue. Inexpensive investment in dues supports our varied activities and initiatives including:
  • Government and trend watchdog
  • Advocacy and lobbying
  • Bill monitoring
  • Continuing Education
  • Facilitation of professional association communications & sharing
  • Broadcast Bulletins and Alerts
  • Informational articles and website
  • New inspector mentoring…
NYSAHI works to keep Home Inspectors prepared and represented in a way that few individuals have the resources to do for themself.

Board of Directors

NYSAHI is a volunteer organization. The NYSAHI Board of Directors is made up of:

Henrey Jetty - NYSAHI President (GRAHI – Genesee Regional Alliance of Home Inspectors)
Larry Ames - NYSAHI Secretary (President, STAHI – Southern Tier Association of Home Inspectors)
Mitchell Allen - NYSAHI Treasurer (Long Island Area)
Ross Relyea (NYSAHI Past President, Central NY Region)
Russ Fontaine (Vice President, STAHI – Southern Tier Association of Home Inspectors)

Find an Inspector

Articles of Interest

Click the links below to see our articles of interest: HUD Form recommending a home inspection (PDF)

Is Inspection of a New Home Legal for a NYS Licensed Home Inspector???

A question was brought up by a New York State licensed Home Inspector to a director of NYSAHI relative to inspection of newly constructed homes that have not been previously occupied. Concern was expressed that a Licensed Home Inspector might be prohibited from inspecting a newly constructed home by NYS Real Property Law 12b, § 444-b. Definitions, 6.

Short Answer: The response from NYSDOS confirmed NYSAHI's proposal that “New Construction Inspection” can be offered by Licensed Home Inspectors as long as it is not represented in any way to be "Home Inspection".

More Detail: NYSAHI wrote a request for interpretation to the Supervising Attorney for the Licensing Division of the NYS Department of State making these observations:

"It would appear, that the cited definition would place inspection of newly constructed homes outside of the licensed practice of Home Inspection. (§ 444-b. Definitions, 6. “Residential building” means a structure consisting of one to four dwelling units and their garages and carport but shall not include any such structure newly constructed or not previously occupied as a dwelling unit.)"

"We find no restriction in that law that would prevent a licensed Home Inspector from engaging in inspection of new construction as long as that work is not represented in any way as a Home Inspection as defined by 12b, and that the new construction inspection is not marketed or advertised as “Home Inspection”."

"We propose that inspection of new construction might legally be offered to the public by a Home Inspector, but as an additional related service offering (perhaps “New Construction Inspection”) akin to other services such as Radon Testing, Water Quality Testing, Septic Dye Testing, etc. These are outside of the definition of “Home Inspection” as defined in the law, but frequently offered by Home Inspectors and advertised on home inspection websites, etc."

We asked that if this additional service offering of “New Construction Inspection” is permissible, to be advised of any related prohibitions or restraints that might guide Home Inspectors in legally offering that service.

We noted that we found the following from 12b NYS Home Inspection Professional Licensing Law to be pertinent to this matter:

§ 444-a. Short title.
This article shall be known and may be cited as the “home inspection professional licensing act”.

§197-4.4 Unlicensed and Unlawful Activity.
(a) Home inspectors shall not engage in, knowingly permit or aid and abet, unlicensed or activity that is prohibited by Article 12-B of the Real Property Law or the regulations promulgated thereunder.

§197-4.8 Fraud, Misrepresentation and Dishonesty.
Home inspectors shall not engage in fraud, fraudulent activity, misrepresentation or dishonesty.

§197-4.9 Promotion and Advertising.
(a) Home inspectors shall not advertise in a false, misleading or deceptive manner.

NYSDOS responded to our inquiry and proposal, confirming that as long as a Home Inspector "...makes clear, in all its stark significance and without any ambiguity, that the “review”, regardless of the purported standards the inspector alleges to follow, is not a “home inspection..." the NY RPL would not prohibit such conduct."

NYSAHI responded in writing to DOS with thanks for the interpretation but requesting additional clarification:

"We note in your e-mailed response... that you use the term “review”. That term was not used in our written inquiry. The term appears to be substituted for the term “inspection” in your response. We wish to know if this was to perhaps indicate some type of restriction from using the term “inspection” in offering and providing the additional service of “Newly Constructed Residence Inspection”. NYSAHI expects that an appropriately diligent Home Inspector would endeavor to fully “inspect” a Newly Constructed Residence, and that that effort would be substantially more than what might be implied by “review”.

Further, given that a Home Inspector would carefully refrain from in any way referring to “Newly Constructed Residence Inspection” as a “Home Inspection”, and draw a clear distinction, identifying the former as an unregulated service, would there be any prohibition against having a pre-inspection agreement for inspection of a “Newly Constructed Residence” that references the NYS Home Inspection Professional Licensing Law and obligates the Home Inspector to conduct and report the Inspection in full accordance with the Standards of Practice of that law by reference, including scope and ethical requirements?"

NYSDOS has not yet responded to the request for clarification.

TAKE AWAY:

  • A NYS HI can legally offer and conduct “New Construction Inspection” of a home.
  • However, it must be made absolutely clear that the “New Construction Inspection” is NOT a regulated "Home Inspection". This should be reflected in advertising and agreements, etc. Failure to do this may be an actionable violation of the law that could lead to fines and/or threaten your license.
  • It would be a good idea to make sure that offering this service is covered by your Liability/E&O insurance. Our preliminary inquiry to one prominent insurance provider indicated that it would be.
  • We expect that the DOS response using the term "review" instead of "inspection" is not intended to limit “New Construction Inspection”, but rather to re-emphasize that it needs to be made very clear that the service is not a "Home Inspection" regulated under NYS law. We hope for confirmation of this soon by DOS.
  • We believe that the DOS reply including "... regardless of the purported standards the inspector alleges to follow..." supports our belief that “New Construction Inspection” can be offered as fully equivalent to "Home Inspection" by carefully tying the pre-inspection agreement for it by reference to the NYS Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics for Home Inspection. We also hope for confirmation of this soon by DOS. In any case, one should not use their standard Pre-Inspection Agreement for a Home Inspection to provide “Newly Constructed Residence” inspection without appropriate modification approved by an attorney.
NOTICE: This article was not written by an attorney and does not reflect the advice of an attorney to interpret the DOS response or otherwise. It should not be relied on for legal advice. NYSAHI recommends consultation with an attorney for reliable legal advice.

A3714 / S5097 MADE LAW - Another Step in the Right Direction?


This bill, signed by the Governor into law in December 2022 and effective in June of 2023, amends the NYS Real Property Law and adds a required disclosure, by the Seller to the Buyer in the modified Property Condition Disclosure (PCD), of indoor mold history upon the sale of Residential Real Property (generally1-4 unit “Homes” inspected within our license. This does not apply to Condos, Cooperative Apartments, and “Property on a Homeowner’s Association that is not in fee simple by the Seller”). It adds the question: “HAS THE PROPERTY BEEN TESTED FOR INDOOR MOLD? YES NO UNKN (IF YES, ATTACH A COPY OF THE REPORT)”.

It is important to note that detection and reporting of mold is specifically excluded in our NYS Home Inspection Standards of Pracatice. However, many Inspectors offer inspection for mold as Mold Assessors.

Some observations about NY Property Condition Disclosures…

In certain locales (for instance Downstate) a PCD is not commonly available at the time of inspection. In locales that generally require a purchase agreement prior to inspection, the PCD is often part of that paperwork. Some Home Inspectors make it their practice to request a copy of the PCD for review prior to an inspection. By this, Inspectors can be alerted to issues identified by the Seller and also might give their Buyer Client a head’s up where inspection observations differ from the Seller’s statements in the PCD.

While PCD law provisions, along with adding mold to the list of required disclosures, appear to be aimed at consumer protection of a home Buyer, New York’s Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) policy in a home sale still reigns. What might have been very effective protection of a Buyer in creating the PCD was substantially weakened by modification of provisions as it was made NYS Law. The Seller’s diclosures in answering the PCD questions had originally been required to be based on constructive knowledge (what they should know). This was changed to actual knowledge (what they actually do know at time of signing). By that change, a Seller is not required to investigate anything to complete the PCD fundamentally changing their level of responsibility. It can be a major challenge to prove what a Seller actually did know at the time of signing to make a case of fraud where a Seller might be held liable for damages for an intentional misrepresentation.

Another weakness of the PCD law is that a Seller can avoid providing a PCD by paying just $500 to the Buyer at closing. $500 is a pittance relative to the value of most homes and the cost of major repairs. The Seller can side-step PCD liability by simply paying that. Failure of a Seller to provide a PCD, however, can be seen in itself as a cue to look even more closely for substantial undisclosed issues.

Various exclusions in the law provide that PCDs are not required in circumstances such as estate sales where the Seller is a fiduciary administrator for the estate, or in a sale due to forclosure, etc. In these cases the Seller would generally not have been in residence and would not be expected to be familiar with a home’s condition.

On the bright side, the PCD can be used by the Seller to move a problem with their home up front in the sale so that it is disclosed and represented as already incorporated into their asking price. This act can build trust between Buyer and Seller and limit Seller liability, easing the sale process. Otherwise a substantial undisclosed issue found in a Home Inspection can become a matter of contention and negotiation that could delay closing or kill the deal.

Whether a PCD is provided or not, this law does not relieve a Buyer from the responsibility of due diligence in making the purchase. Getting a Home Inspection is an essential element of that effort.

New York’s Property Condition Disclosure law was conceived as a strong tool for consumer protection. Adding mold to its list of questions does not do much to correct its enfeeblements.

Home Inspection remains a Home Buyer’s best protection. That is why NYSAHI strongly advocates for a NYS Right to Home Inspection Law.

This article is provided for general information only and to engage the reader in learning more about the subject. It was not written by or reviewed by an attorney and should in no way be considered to be a legal opinion or legal advice or relied on as such. Consult an attorney for any legal opinion or advice.

Consideration of Winter Conditions in Home Inspection


GOT SNOW?

Consideration of Winter Conditions in Home Inspection
Modern design standards use ground snow load records and accepted safety factors to engineer house structures for high reliability. This is because snow load on structures is a principal cause of structural collapse. Most homes in our area are designed to support a 20-pound snow-load. This loading can be exceeded by less than 2’ of snow! We are encountering more frequent extreme winter weather events. The Buffalo, NY area has had multiple recent incidents of snow accumulation of 4-6 feet! Inspecting for structural weaknesses that may make a home susceptible to damage from winter conditions and educating your Client to understand the threat of heavy snow and ice on their home may save lives and help safeguard against catastrophic property loss.

Warning Signs of Structural Failure - Heavy snow/ice accumulation often causes cracks in the finishes of walls and ceilings and causes doors and windows to bind. These conditions should be investigated by a professional inspector. Hearing loud cracking noises during a high accumulation event is a danger sign.

Snow depth - The density of 1 ft.² of snow is about 1 to 1.5 pounds. It is important to know however, that snow accumulation becomes increasingly dense with depth. The weight of a square foot of snow 6” deep is about 7.5 pounds. The weight of 48” of snow is eight times that (~60 lbs). However, snow compacts as it accumulates so the design weight used in engineering for 4 feet of snow is 117 psf!

Wet Snow - Snow has varying liquid water content and some accumulated snow can be very heavy when the water content is high. Cold fluffy snow may weigh around 7 psf. Really wet snow can weigh 4 times that. Rain falling on accumulated snow is also a condition of concern as the density of the accumulation and the resulting weight on structures can rise dramatically in a short period of time before the snow has an opportunity to melt.

Raftered Roof Structures - The strength of a rafter roof system depends not only on the dimensions, spacing and condition of the rafters, but also on their connections at top and bottom. Rafters should be directly opposed and tied together against separation with collar ties at maximum 4’ on center. Equally important is the connection of the rafters below. Perhaps the strongest connection is when the opposing rafter bottoms are fastened to an attic floor structural member running between them creating a stable triangle. Potentially weak conditions can arise in attics when rafters bear on an exterior attic wall above attic floor level and there is no structural member directly tying the opposing rafter bottoms together. Symptoms of this condition are bellied ridgelines and bulging of the eave line.

Truss Roof Structures - Trusses should be installed according to an engineered design that is not likely available at the time of inspection. However, the installation should be checked for common issues that can result in structural weakness. These include removal or modification of truss web components, rot or other damage to any part of a truss, substandard lumber with knots or other defects, inadequate connection to exterior walls, etc.

Roof Deck Issues - Check for sag between rafters that can result from things such as missing H-clips, span exceeding the rating of sheathing (check the stamp), moisture damage from leaks or poor attic ventilation, sheathing installed in thewrong orientation (the long dimension should be parallel to the eaves for strength), etc. Decks can fail from heavy loads especially from the added weight of persons doing snow removal.

Unbalanced Loads - Roof structural integrity can be jeopardized when one side of the roof has a substantially greater load than the other. This is an especially important consideration in events of heavy accumulation of snow/ice. Winds can cause one side of a roof to be bare while at the same time depositing heavy snow loads on the other. If both sides of the roof have heavy snow loads requiring removal, it is important to balance the removal so that the snow load on one side is not much greater than the other.

Snow Removal - Heavy snow loads may need to be removed to protect a home. This can be a dangerous endeavor from things such as ladder accidents, slippery roof surfaces, sliding snow loads, etc. Roofs can also be damaged resulting in need for repair and/or leaks. Great caution should be used, and consideration given to hiring that work out to a qualified contractor. When removing snow, it should not be scraped down to the roof surface. The important thing is to remove weight. It is generally best not to chip ice, but rather, to get the snow off of it so it has a chance to melt.

Low Pitch - Steeper roofs tend to hold less snow than those with low pitch (generally below 4:12). Special attention should be paid to the structural integrity of low slope roof areas. Ledger attachment, rafter connections, rafter dimensions, etc. should be given close scrutiny.

Sliding Snow Loads - Snow loads, especially on metal roofs, can slide in a mass and be very dangerous and damaging. Metal roofs should have roof jacks to resist sliding snow. In the condition where a steeper slope roof discharges onto a low slope roof below, a heavy sliding snow load may structurally damage the lower roof potentially leading to collapse. Persons can be seriously injured, and substantial property damage can result from sliding snow loads.

Ice Damming - Lack of adequate attic ventilation and attic floor insulation can be very damaging to a home and contribute to accumulation of heavy snow and ice loads. Properly constructed attics have a continuous flow of air along the underside of the roof deck and insulation in the attic floor adequate to prevent excessive heat rising to the underside of the roof deck. This results in the underside and the top side of the roof being at approximately the same temperature so that snow is less likely to stick to the cold roof surface and accumulate, and when it does accumulate is less likely to melt. Poor ventilation and insulation results in the eaves being much colder than the roof surfaces above the heated spaces. Snow melts in the upper heated areas and runs down to the eaves where it encounters the cold condition and freezes. Ice continues to the build up there and that ice works its way into the roofing materials and structures often causing serious damage. Keep in mind the requirements for adhered roofing underlayment that is designed to protect against this. Ice is also heavy, imposing potentially damaging loads at the eaves and the growth of sometimes enormous icicles that not only can cause major damage to the soffits, gutters, etc., but also pose an imminent hazard to persons and property. Removing large accumulations of ice is dangerous in many ways.

Inaccessible Fuel Shut-Offs - Large accumulations of snow and ice coming off the eaves of the roof can cover exterior shut off valves on natural gas feeds to homes and can cover propane and fuel oil tanks. Location of these items below the eaves of a roof is a poor choice that should be reported. Clients should be reminded of the importance of maintaining access to fuel shutoffs in case of emergency.

Iced-over Natural Gas Regulators - Regulators on natural gas supplies to homes act to vent overpressure gas to the exterior environment through the screened outlet in the regulator. If regulators become iced over or buried in heavy snow they may cease to provide protection against overpressure gas to the appliances in the house which can be very hazardous. Make sure your Clients understand how important it is to keep the area around a gas regulator clear. Share this information with your Client during a Home Inspection, even in the Summer!

…and don’t forget to point out the vigilant winter maintenance required by steep driveways
Download of this article PDF here

Do-It-Yourself Radon Monitor Liabilities

Do It Yourself Radon Monitors (DIYRM) are now readily available for sale to the public and have become increasingly popular. Homeowners are using these devices to measure radon levels in homes they own or wish to buy. There are multiple liabilities for licensed Home Inspectors related to these DIY monitors…

First, some shortfalls of various DIYRM:

  1. They do not have a self-diagnostic feature. That means that the DIYRM cannot conduct essential diagnostics before each test to ensure that they are working correctly.
  2. Homeowners/Buyers generally do not follow professional test protocol and their test results are not reliable.
  3. No interruption of power detection. User might rely on readings when the RM may not have been recording for some period.
  4. Lack of security features to detect tampering or disturbance.
  5. Some manufacturers recommend monitoring a location for at least 2 months with their units to get a good radon level measurement. These devices may not be suited for the typical short-term 2–4-day sampling required in a real estate transaction.
  6. DIYRM require routine re-calibration to maintain their ability to monitor radon levels with any accuracy. Homeowners are not likely to bother with this (if that is even available for their device).
  7. Also, some do not have software that is compatible with newer smart phones. Always check monitor/phone compatibility before purchasing any radon measurement device.

While these devices may provide some information to Homeowners about radon in their homes, decisions about the safety of the home’s living environment and about installation of costly radon mitigation systems are best made with measurements taken by certified professionals who use approved and reliable devices according to accepted protocol.

As for Home Inspector liability…

Any Home Inspector recommending or selling these devices may be liable if that device or the way it is used results in inaccurate information. A Client may rightfully expect that if they buy a unit from a licensed Home Inspector, they can rely on it when they use it for testing a home. Clients and purchasers are not likely to follow, or even be aware of, proper radon testing protocol. This, in combination with using uncertified and/or uncalibrated DIY units, can yield results that do not reliably reflect a home’s actual radon level. If the resulting level is low, they may think their home is safe when if might not be. If high, they might install an unnecessary and costly mitigation system.

Who will they blame? You could be on the hook for the cost of subsequent professional testing and/or the cost of installing a mitigation system. Worse, sued for a cancer death! Electronic devices are often made in other countries. A device manufacturer located outside of the US cannot be easily sued, leaving the Home Inspector as a likely first defendant in a lawsuit. HI liability and E&O insurance policies probably don’t insure selling these devices (…and that practice also undermines the home inspection profession by promoting non-professional self-testing). Being sued with no insurance backing to provide defense and cover settlement/award costs is no place to be!

DIYRM are continuous radon measurement devices. CRM must be approved by NYSDOH and calibrated by a New York State ELAP approved lab for them to be used in a real estate transaction. An ELAP (Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program) approved lab is required to comply with NYS Dept. of Health and nationally accredited programs for operation of their calibration facilities and testing and must maintain a formal quality assurance/control program. Most DIYRM companies that calibrate their devices are not an ELAP approved lab. Using unapproved DIYRM for testing homes is outside of NYS regulations and may very well not be covered by HI insurance policies. Home Inspectors using non-compliant devices can also be subject to NYSDOH penalties.

We have been advised that the NYS Department of Health requests that the use of DIYRM for radon measurement in real estate transactions by licensed Home Inspectors be reported for investigation. Reports should be made to: radon@health.ny.gov or (518) 402-7556

If you encounter homes being monitored for radon by these devices, warn your Clients and others about these issues and recommend that they only rely on radon testing by qualified professionals when making important health related decisions.

*** NYSAHI publications are not prepared by attorneys and do not provide legal advice. Consult a NYS licensed attorney for any legal advice. ***

Are you collecting sales tax? (..and doing it properly)

NOTICE: This article is provided for general informational purposes only and is not written or reviewed by a licensed attorney or accounting professional. It is intended to raise awareness of Home Inspector responsibilities under NYS Law and to help them comply and navigate potential liabilities. Consultation with a qualified attorney and accountant is highly recommended. Do not rely solely on the lay opinions and advice offered here.

The short story on sales tax in home inspection is that it must be collected whenever home inspections or related inspections or tests are done for any entity other than a Buyer. Your inspection work for Buyers is generally exempt from sales tax. You must have Authority from NYS to collect sales tax and it must be properly collected and reserved, and then reported and paid to the State periodically and on time. Anything else will subject you to fines and/or penalties, in some cases severe. More detailed information follows.

According to The Quick Reference Guide for Taxable and Exempt Property and Services - Tax Bulletin ST-740 (TB-ST-740), examples of taxable services, and transactions that are subject to sales tax include: “certain information services “ and “maintaining, servicing, and repairing real property” https://www.tax.ny.gov

For the service of Home Inspection, we refer to:

STATE OF NEW YORK DEPARTMENT OF TAXATION AND FINANCE, ADVISORY OPINION, PETITION NO. S891031A, 3/21/1990

“The issue raised… is whether charges paid for "home inspection services" are subject to sales and use tax.” The description of the situation states that “No repair services are performed by the inspector. The written report is provided only to the client. The purchaser of the inspection service generally relies on the inspection report to decide if further price adjustments are necessary before purchase of the residence or if repair of the deficiencies is necessary.”

The service of inspecting and providing a home inspection report for a Buyer is a personal information service. “The sale of such report in written form constitutes the rendering of an information service.” The guidance offered in the Advisory is: “..as long as the purchaser of the home inspection service is not the owner of the real property which is the subject of the home inspection report, the charge paid by the purchaser for the report will not be subject to sales tax as a charge for maintaining, servicing or repairing real property, property or land.” Information services to property owners, including analysis and reports, are considered to be part of property maintenance.

Two conditions for the Buyer sales tax exemption are stated:

  1. …the report pertains only to the particular premises being purchased by the particular client…” and because of this “…is considered to be uniquely personal or individual in nature…”.
  2. (Emphasized) The resulting report “… is not or may not be substantially incorporated in reports furnished to other persons …”. “The report furnished to the buyer client meets this condition in that the data and analysis contained in the report is furnished only to the client, is not furnished to other persons and has value for a very limited period of time.”


Takeaways from this opinion include:

The sales tax exemption only applies to services provided to a Buyer. Home inspection services for a Seller/Homeowner are subject to sales tax because the Tax Law considers the service to them to be for “… maintaining, servicing or repairing real property, property or land.” Sales tax must be collected by Home Inspectors for performance of services for a Seller/Homeowner.

A sales tax exempt inspection report may not be duplicated for distribution to others, and information from it may not be substantially compiled or analyzed into a related report for distribution to any other. Entire reports should not be distributed or shared with the Listing Agent, Seller/Homeowner, any other prospective buyer, or others.

We can construe from this Advisory that the other tests and services that we provide where reports are generated for a Buyer are also sales tax exempt if the two cited conditions are met.

Business Hygiene Actions Items to Consider:


  • Collect NYS Sales Tax when it is due. "You may be subject to fines and a jail sentence, if you: … willfully fail to collect state and local sales tax required to be collected." (Also, State and Local Sales Taxes should be separately identified on a bill, statement, or receipt)
  • If you do not already have NYS Sales Tax Authority, Get It! You may be subject to civil penalties if you sell taxable services without a Certificate of Authority. Penalties are "up to $500 for the first day on which sales or purchases are made, plus up to $200 for each subsequent day, not to exceed $10,000." (The COA must be prominently posted in your place of business.)
    https://www.tax.ny.gov/
  • Pay collected sales tax to NYS on time. Sales tax collected must be kept in a specific account and a report with payment to NYS made quarterly (annual payment may sometimes be authorized).
    https://www.tax.ny.gov/


Keep it Personal. Make sure your agreement with a Buyer Client emphasizes that the home inspection and any related tests/inspections are provided as a personal information service under NYS Law. They are for the Client’s personal use only for consideration of and any negotiation for the purchase of the subject property, and accordingly Client agrees that they shall not duplicate or substantially share the information from the inspections/tests/reports with any other and shall indemnify you (cover any loss or damage to you) should they do so or allow it. Make it clear that they are only allowed to share selected excerpts from your reports and only as necessary for negotiation. This will also help guard against any others using your hard work for free and against the potential of calls to you down the road, from persons with whom you have no business relationship, perhaps requesting information or making complaints about a report. Your reports for a Buyer are NOT for the use of any other for any purpose!

Do not give your reports to anyone other than you Client. Keep the Client responsible for control of the documents and for any improper sharing. You defeat any contractual protections if you enable sharing. DO NOT send the report to Realtors or others. If requested to do so tell them they must get any inspections/tests/reports directly from your Client.

Include warnings on your reports (every page if possible) advising that they are prepared for the use of your Client only, that copying or distribution in any form is strictly prohibited, that use by other than the Client for any purpose is strictly prohibited, that others that might use the information in the reports do so at their own risk and you bear no responsibility to them for anything whatsoever.

Educate your Buyer Client. Make sure they understand their contractual obligations to control the inspection information and reports.

NYS Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, NYSERDA, is responsible for the implementation of the NYS Advanced Building Codes - Appliance and Equipment Efficiency Standards Act of 2022. This initiative sets “...minimum energy and water efficiency requirements for residential and commercial products and appliances to help maintain performance and quality while reducing energy and/or water consumption.” The purpose of the Act is to meet our Greenhouse Gas reduction goal and to provide consumers the benefits of product and appliance efficiency. The first standards take effect on June 26, 2023. Some residential products included in this first batch of standards include: Faucets, Toilets, Shower heads, Gas Fireplaces, Ventilation Fans… They are required to be listed in the States Appliances Standards Database (SASD), available on-line, that as of this date has 31,385 individually certified appliances that meet the new standards. “Any manufacturer, distributor, retailer, or installer selling, leasing, or renting non compliant products may be subject to enforcement penalties. “

Receive program updates from NYSERDA:

https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/

Determination of compliance of installed products or appliances is not a requirement under NYS Home Inspection Standards of Practice. But, a knowledgeable Inspector should be familiar with the sweeping Green Energy programs to help keep Clients informed.

Response to Member Question Regarding Mold/PCD

We received the following in response to NYSAHI's recent email regarding Mold being added to the NYS requirements for Property Condition Disclosure:

"I read the Bulletin about the Property Condition Disclosure law relating to disclosing mold and have a few related questions..."

  1. "If, while doing an inspection, we detect "suspected mold" is there a requirement to report it to the state, as with radon?"

    There is no requirement to report. Radon is reported for the State and Federal governments to create a profile of radon levels by locale since it can be a greater problem in some places due to geologic conditions (among other things). Mold can grow in any locale given the right conditions.

    FYI: Mold is specifically excluded from the scope of a NYS Home Inspection by the Home Inspection Standards of Practice. However, some Home Inspectors elect to offer Mold Assessment as an additional service. That requires special licensing.

    Useful links:
    NYS Mold Program
    NYS Mold Licensing Law

    Inspectors who are not licensed should be careful in reporting “suspected mold”. NYS Law requires Mold Assessor licensing for

    “Any individual that engages in mold assessment on a project. Mold assessment is defined as any inspection or assessment of property for the purpose to discover mold, conditions that facilitate mold, and/or any conditions that indicate they are likely to encourage mold.”

    Civil penalties can apply for violations. However, completely neglecting to call a Client's attention to a mold situation can lead to lawsuit regardless of whether mold is within the SOP or not. Some Inspectors deal with this quandary by suggesting in their report, for instance, that

    “Client should consider having what appeared to perhaps be substantial biological growth on wood structure further evaluated by a qualified environmental professional as some biologicals can be damaging to structures and/or a health concern”.

    A common recommendation to Home Inspectors is that using the word “Mold” or calling for a “Mold Assessor” should be scrupulously avoided.
  2. "Is there a specific (mold) form that we should complete, similar to WDO? Who gets copies?"

    There is no standard form for Mold Assessment. However, there are standards for what must be reported in a Mold Assessment.

    Home Inspections are strictly confidential to the Client and their designees by NYS Home Inspection law. Home Inspection for a Buyer Client is tax-exempt under NYS tax law as a “personal information service”, and so, the resulting information and reports must not be intended to be shared with others to qualify for that exemption. For instance, WDO inspection is generally provided to a Buyer by a Home Inspector without charging sales tax per that tax exemption. Generally, no Home Inspection or related test/inspection information or reports done for a Buyer Client should be provided by a Home Inspector to any other than those authorized by the Client (except as specifically required/allowed by Law, such as, informing Owner/occupants of high radon levels, reporting imminent hazardous conditions to Owner/occupants, etc.). Unauthorized sharing of Home Inspection information or the report by a Home Inspector is forbidden. Some Home Inspectors protect themselves from complications by including in their Pre-Inspection Agreement that they will only provide reports to their Client and that the Client is solely responsible and liable for any distribution (...and that such reports are prepared for the Client only and not for use by others, ...that use or interpretation by others is at their own risk, ...Inspector has no obligation to others for such unauthorized use, ...etc.)
  3. "Do we communicate any of this to the listing agent or only to the seller?"

    Most often, neither. Neither one is your Client. The Listing Agent or Seller can be authorized by the Buyer Client to have access to confidential inspection information (...this, and all authorizations, might be best done in writing so you have a record), but that may not be a good idea because the Client loses their control of the information and real estate transactions are generally very sensitive. To maintain that control some Buyer Clients may not even authorize their own Realtor. Some Inspectors require specific authorization by a Client for their Realtor’s access to Inspection information/reports since the Inspector does not have access to the agency agreement between their Client and their Realtor and will not know the extent of the Agent’s authorizations. Unless the Listing Agent is a dual agent, representing both Buyer & Seller, the Listing Agent is not typically Client-authorized and sharing inspection information with them amounts to the same as improperly giving it directly to the Seller. That would be wrong. Some Buyer Clients elect not to include dual agency Realtors in their authorizations for this reason.
  4. "Should there be a requirement that the Property Condition Disclosure is provided to the home inspector prior to the inspection. I typically request it, but some backup would be nice."

    There is no obligation on the Buyer Client to provide the Property Condition Disclosure to the Inspector. There may not even be one at the time of Inspection (typical in some locales, especially Downstate). But it is to their advantage to provide one if the have it. The PCD might disclose important Owner-identified issues that may not be obvious and can alert the Inspector to very closely evaluate those and any related issues. Further, the Inspector can give their Buyer Client a heads up to discrepancies between what is observed and what has been represented in the PCD. (Remember to ask for the NYSAR Surveillance Disclosure

We thank and congratulate the NYSAHI Member who submitted these important questions! This is your no-risk means to get essential answers. No names will be posted with questions and we will do our best to respond with helpful information.

This article includes opinion and it is provided for general information only and to engage the reader in learning more about the subject. It was not written by or reviewed by an attorney and should in no way be considered to be a legal opinion or legal advice or relied on as such. Consult an attorney for any legal opinion or advice.

Responsible feedback offering different opinions or comments is encouraged.

NYS Government Information

Department of State

The following are useful links to New York State:
DOS Home Inspector General Information page
- General DOS information on home inspectors and licensing

NYS Home Inspector License Law PDF
- PDF of full text of NYS licensing law on DOS site

NYS Home Inspectors and Mold
- NYS Department of Labor page on home inspectors and mold. If you discuss mold in your reports, it would be best if you become a NYS-licensed mold assessor.

NYSAHI Positions

(Click on heading to expand)

NYSAHI Advocates for a Right to Home Inspection Law

The purchase of a home is for most the greatest or among the greatest investment(s) they may make in their lifetime. Few Home Buyers have the knowledge and experience to realistically evaluate a house to determine its condition and safety, or to project substantial expenses for repair or replacement that are likely to be required in the near term. This is why the profession of Home Inspector exists. New York’s business policy of Buyer Beware substantially relieves the Seller of the burden of revealing issues with a home and a Buyer is expected to perform due diligence in evaluating a home prior to closing. Almost all Buyers have to rely on professional evaluation of a home to responsibly do that.

Recent Market trends have increasingly led to situations where Buyers are discouraged from getting a Home Inspection. Realtors may advise that to have any chance of being accepted in a very competitive market an offer should be higher than the asking price and with no contingencies. Sellers may even advertise that offers with a Home Inspection or other contingencies will not be considered. Buyers, desperate to find a home when there is limited supply and high demand, often have no choice but to take the big chance that the house for which they put in a high/no-contingency offer is OK. Sellers in this market can get top dollar for substandard / unsafe / very needy homes.

NYSAHI’s position is that no Buyer should EVER be forced into this position and that their right to a professional and regulated Home Inspection, with typical associated tests, must be established in NYS Law so that noone buys a home without the opportunity for essential due diligence. Without an undeniable legal right to a Home Inspection, Buyers can, without viable options, find themselves burdened with unsafe/money pit homes that put their/their family’s health, safety and economic security in jeopardy. The overall result is added strain on an already struggling health system, bankruptcy, foreclosure, homelessness, ...and none of that is good for our society or economy. This is why NYSAHI is calling on the NYS Legislature to create a strong Right to Home Inspection law.

How Does My NYS Mandated Liability Insurance Protect Me (and The Public)?

§444-K(1) of the NYS Home Inspection Professional Licensing Act requires that a person applying for a home Inspector license provide proof of their having general liability insurance, and licensed home inspectors are required by that law to maintain that insurance at all times. The law further requires the liability insurance to be made in the coverage minimum amounts of $150,000 per occurrence and $500,000 aggregate.

So, being a newly hatched graduate of the state-mandated 140-hour required training course and having passed the licensing exam, you do a search on the Internet to find “home inspector liability insurance” and find a company that will sell it to you for around 500 bucks. You do the deal and send your application into the State, signed in affirmation that you have the required insurance.

License in hand, you are “good to go” and you hang your shingle on the World Wide Web and work hard to start to grow your business.

You get a call one day from an irate homeowner saying he’s going to sue you because you destroyed his house by causing a major water leak when you tested the whirlpool bath. You explained to him that all you did was fill it with water deep enough to test the whirlpool function, turn the whirlpool thing on to make sure it worked, turned it off and drained the water. If that caused a leak it certainly wasn’t your fault and he should be talking to his homeowner’s insurance carrier. The homeowner says the problem would not have occurred if you hadn’t done what you had done during the inspection and you can expect to hear from his lawyer.

Wow!

Well, that should be a pain and it could be costly. Better call my liability insurance company.

That did not go very well. After listening to your description of the incident the company representative points out to you the clause in your policy relating to exclusions and the specific exclusion of “Professional Liability”. The rep explains that as licensed home Inspector, you are a professional and you made a professional judgment call to test that whirlpool tub. Anything resulting from that professional judgment should be covered by Professional Liability Insurance, otherwise known as E&O (Errors and Omissions). You are not covered for it by your general liability policy due to that specific exclusion. You point out to the rep that the homeowner’s claim is not even legit and that their homeowner’s insurance should cover it. Can you just call them and straighten it out? The rep explains to you that her company has no obligation to provide any support or defense for you since it is clearly excluded from coverage and that they will not get involved in any way. She wishes you the best and suggests that perhaps you should get a quote from your agent for E&O.

*%$@# !! I thought I was insured!

  • Lesson #1: Exclude testing whirlpool tubs as they often leak where you can’t see it. (And because the State SOP excludes it: Not required to…“Observe and report on any spas, saunas, hot-tubs or jetted tubs”
  • Lesson #2: Read and understand your insurance policy.
  • Lesson #3: You really should not be practicing a profession without E&O coverage.
This particular scenario has reportedly occurred. Twice.

The New York State Association of Home Inspectors (NYSAHI) Board of Directors has had this as a matter of discussion at multiple meetings. Is has been pointed out that it seems right that E&O should insure against failures of professional judgment in reporting and that general liability insurance should rightfully protect against damage to a house that results from the from the physical acts of conducting an inspection. After all, contractors of all types, who are not licensed professionals and do not carry E&O, have general liability insurance that would cover them if they had filled and turned on the whirlpool tub. It seems reasonable for home inspectors to expect the same.

It has also been noted that the State should define more clearly what the mandated general liability insurance should cover. It is apparent that the intent of the law was to protect the public against damage to their homes as a result of a home inspection. As things stand now, the liability insurance offered by some appears to offer little protection of this kind to either the homeowner or the home inspector. That makes buying a liability insurance policy that the State will accept more of an administrative formality and unnecessary expense, whose benefit is only to an insurance company that “clips coupons” collecting annual premiums with little if any exposure to risk of defense cost or payout.

A comment made by a very experienced and successful home inspector, “You get what you pay for”, should serve as a warning to home inspectors. Getting a general liability policy that provides good and expected coverage will certainly be substantially more expensive than one that serves only as a placeholder for licensing. Also, if you are a sole proprietorship or LLC, all your personal assets are on the line in every inspection. Even if you have great general liability insurance, the real professional judgments that you make, that are reflected in your reports and elsewhere, are not insured unless you carry E&O. One bad call can have devastating financial impacts. Even if a claim against you has no merit, you may have to mount a defense, and legal costs can be staggering. Insurance policies provide coverage for defense against claims as well as payment of damages (subject to your deductible and limits).

NYSAHI believes that the State should do a better job of protecting the public by being far more clear in their regulation about the requirements for general liability insurance and what it should cover. However, we do not expect that to happen anytime soon. So, with regard to your general liability insurance policy, we recommend “Buyer Beware!”.

Walk-n-talk Inspections

The Perils of Walk-n-talks

Walk-n-talks, also known as "walkthough consultations", are characterized by short duration (perhaps only 30 minutes), usually no contract, no written report and substantially reduced fee, as compared to a full home inspection done per NYS minimum standards. These are often performed by a contractor, but sometimes a licensed home inspector, who walks through a home with a buyer client and discusses various conditions observed.

Walk-n-talks have become more frequent, due to market pressure with limited housing supply. Some involved in selling a home have favored this practice to reach closing quicker in a strong seller’s market. Buyers are attracted to the reduced cost of the “inspection” and because a walk-n-talk can be done at a showing before making an offer. Also, relying on a walk-n-talk, buyers often waive a full home inspection, making their purchase offer more attractive in a competitive environment. Sellers may specifically encourage this in their offers for sale. We were advised that in some places in New York State the practice has become common and is encouraged by real estate industry professionals.

In response to our inquiry to the Department of State, the NYSAHI Board was advised that since there is no written report produced, walk-n-talks are not home inspections under the professional licensing law and thus are not regulated. They also advised that licensed home inspectors are accordingly not prohibited in that law from engaging in walk-n-talks.

After further exploring the practice, we have concluded that walk-n-talks are contrary to the public interest that the NYS Home Inspection Professional Licensing Law was enacted to protect, and that all parties who engage in the practice do so at great risk, especially licensed home inspectors. Following are considerations that have led us to this conclusion:

Buyers
  • There are no professional standards. Licensing does not apply. Any unqualified person may engage in the practice.
  • Buyers have limited legal recourse against any unlicensed consultant.
  • Even if performed by a licensed home inspector, a walk-n-talk is by far substandard to a State-regulated home inspection. It is not possible to properly evaluate all of the systems of a home in a short walk through. Undisclosed issues and unanticipated expenses are sure to arise after sale.
  • Without a written home inspection report a buyer has no professionally documented tool to use as a reliable basis for negotiation and no written documentation of the conversation that happened during the walkthrough.
  • There is no Code of Ethics to protect a buyer from from conflicts of interest or collusion among their walk-n-talk consultant and others on the seller's side.
  • Walk-n-talks fast-track the home buying process, shorting due diligence at a time when it is most needed for a life-changing major investment.
Sellers
  • Accepting a purchase offer where a home inspection is waived, especially if in any way encouraged by the seller, can expose the seller to a claim for damages resulting from undocumented defects and/or those not detected in a walk-n-talk. Did the seller prevent the buyer from exercising due diligence? Did the seller imply that waiving the inspection contingency was a requirement of sale? A full home inspection protects both buyer and seller.
Realtors, Lawyers, Mortgage Brokers
  • Professionals practicing within a real estate transaction can be named in legal actions if they in any way recommend a walk-n-talk in lieu of a full home inspection or encourage a buyer to waive a home inspection. Realtors especially have a duty to both buyer and seller to recommend a home inspection prior to sale.
Licensed Home Inspectors
  • Any inspection you perform without a written report is very likely not covered by your insurance. Without a report, that service is not considered a home inspection, which is your insured business. Your company and perhaps all your personal assets are on the line.
  • As a licensed professional you are held to a higher standard under the law. Regardless of anything you say or agree to, a buyer has a rightful expectation to trust you to protect them from buying a house with undisclosed defects. Will you find them all in a half-hour?
  • Without a written Home Inspection report, any legal action against you may be based on hearsay. This can place you at a considerable disadvantage and in an indefensible position in court.
  • Providing a walk-n-talk could be tantamount to encouraging the buyer to purchase a home without a proper home inspection exposing you to substantial liability.
  • A walk-n-talk performed without a contract further increases liability.
  • Lawsuits against home inspectors involved in walk-n-talks are reportedly on the rise...
We have come to believe that the practice of walk-n-talks is contrary to the public interest and the spirit of the law that established our profession which recognizes that "A home inspection has a direct and vital impact on the quality of life for all home buyers"*. We also believe that licensed home inspectors engaging in such practice undermine the credibility of our profession by offering an unreliable and far inferior service as compared to a home inspection conducted in accordance within the NYS Standards of Practice. We remind you all that "In performing home inspection services, home inspectors shall adhere to the highest principles of ethical conduct."* We do not believe it is ethical for a home inspector to engage in this questionable practice because buyers may reasonably, but in ignorance, rely on a walk-n-talk conducted by a licensed home inspector to be equivalent to a true full home inspection.

* As per NYS Home Inspection Code of Ethics

NYSAHI was instrumental in changing the NYS Licensing Exam

Licensing for home inspectors in New York State came into being in 2006. For years after that, against the grindingly slow halls of congress, NYSAHI sponsored a bill amending the licensing law to require that the original, absurdly easy, State-offered exam, which did not meet the State's own requirements for a psychoimetrically valid exam, be replaced by the National Home Inspector Exam (NHIE). In November of 2019, our bill was finally signed into law (the first change to the licensing law since it took effect).

A mere 4 months later, language was inserted into the 2020 budget proposal to amend the law once more to allow the DOS to accept either exam, much to our chagrin. Our lobbtist contacted members in the senate delegation to oppose this 180-degree change in the governor's position and the line item was subsequently changed to read as follows (underlined is new text):

Section 1. Paragraph (c) of subdivision 1 of section 444-e of the real
23 property law, as amended by chapter 541 of the laws of 2019, is amended
24 to read as follows:
25 (c) have passed the National Home Inspector examination or an examina-
26 tion offered by the secretary. Any examination offered by the secretary
27 must meet or exceed the national exam standards set by the Examination
28 Board of Professional Home Inspectors in consultation with the New York
29 State Association of Home Inspectors
to include questions related to
30 state-specific procedures, rules, and regulations, and changes to state
31 and federal law, and be updated annually;
and
32 § 2. This act shall take effect immediately and shall apply to appli-
33 cations for a license as a professional home inspector received on or
34 after November 25, 2019.

(See the new law on nysenate.gov here: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/RPP/444-E, paragraph (c) )

So NYSAHI is memorialized in the NYS home inspector licensing law.

The DOS hired a point person with a background in education and exam psychometrics to spearhead the creation of a new exam. In her own words regarding the original exam: "This exam sucks". To that end, three NYSAHI board members served as subject matter experts to help with the development of a new test, which is now being offered. The new test is psychometrically valid and is continually updated. For example, if everyone gets a particular question right or wrong, the question is tossed. License applicants can still take the NHIE (the exam required by ASHI) if they prefer, although the main complaint about the NHIE is that it is not NYS-specific.

Initial Training Requirements

Low standards for attaining and maintaining a Home Inspector license are a disservice to individual inspectors, the profession, and consumers of inspection services. NYSAHI has performed various surveys and has found that the majority of home inspectors agree that harm to the public perception of this profession could result from weak standards.

During the regulatory development period following enactment of the Home Inspection Professional License law, the New York Department of State (DOS) consistently expressed and acted upon a concern that certain provisions of the law could unfairly limit individuals from being able to attain licensure. This continues to be a guiding concern for the DOS and has resulted in weak initial educational requirements, minimal continuing education requirements, and a Mod 5 (field training) that clearly does not meet the requirements of the law for true on-site, and real-life training. The facts show that this concern on the part of the DOS is totally without basis. At least 10 other states have requirements more stringent than New York, including New Jersey, where reciprocity would be out of the question. New York inspectors who wish to work in New Jersey currently have to obtain a separate license under more stringent conditions.

Consumers believe that a New York State license is their assurance of a properly trained and knowledgeable professional. Under the present law, nothing could be further from the truth. Despite the massive, multidisciplinary knowledge base required to perform a proper residential inspection for the most important and expensive purchase that most people make in their lifetimes, and despite the many life threatening safety concerns that can exist in homes, the hours of training to become a home inspector are a small fraction of those required by cosmetologists, barbers or hearing aid dispensers. The 140 hours of education and training pale by comparison with the 2,000 hours of training required of real estate appraisers, whose base of required technical knowledge is minimal compared to the home inspection profession. Unfortunately for the consumer, the minimal requirements for a home inspector license are incongruous with the responsibilities of a professional home inspector.

It is clear to those of us in the profession that the present 140 hours of training are woefully inadequate to provide the knowledge necessary to properly evaluate all the structural, mechanical systems, as well as safety concerns found in homes. Ultimately a two-year degree focusing on the proper evaluation of these systems should be required, as well as significant supervised on-the-job training. Through our interviews with many individuals who teach home inspection licensing courses, all have expressed concerns that the current training requirements do not allow for sufficient time necessary to cover the intended subject matter, especailly Module 5, the field training section.

It is NYSAHI's position that the required hours of training should be raised from 140 to a minimum of 200 (30 hours each for Mods 1 through 4; 80 hours for Mod 5).

This need for additional training hours is also important for another reason: Many NYS licensed inspectors in the downstate area need to be able to practice in New Jersey as well as New York, in order to have viable businesses. Because of insufficient training requirements in New York State, New Jersey does not recognize our regulations as sufficient to allow our inspectors to practice in their state. Reciprocity with New Jersey is important to many of our members. We have asked the DOS to negotiate with New Jersey to determine and enact those requirements that would make reciprocity possible.

Inclusion of a rider on all home inspection purchase contracts

(Similar to HUD's - "For Your Protection: Get a Home Inspection")

In most cases, purchasing a home is the most important and expensive decision people make. Purchasing a home with serious defects could financially cripple a family's finances, and lead to foreclosure. For this reason, several years ago, the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required all purchasers who were buying a house with a federally insured mortgage to read and sign a rider included with the purchase contract. Although we feel that a home inspection should be encouraged for all home purchases, we do not want the purchasers to incur any additional expenses, especially during tough economic times. Including this rider will incur no additional costs. It is highly important that potential home purchasers know the difference between an appraisal, which is a determination of the home value in relation to comparable, recently sold, nearby, properties, and a home inspection, which details major defects that can cost the unsuspecting purchaser thousands of dollars of necessary repairs. The purchasers also need to be protected form unethical players in the transaction who may conflate an appraisal with a home inspection, or attempt to dissuade them altogether from a home inspection.

Windstorm certificates

A member asked about home inspectors being able to be qualified to perform windstorm certificate inspections, which is an inspection done on behalf of insurance companies for their insured clients in high-wind (coastal) areas. Windstorm certificates are currently provided by Professional Engineers. Therefore, we would need to change the insurance company requirements, as well as justify to the engineering community that home inspectors could be qualified to perform this inspection. Since windstorm certificates would be a sideline at best for only a limited amount of home inspectors, the Board decided that the limited resources of NYSAHI be allocated for more important efforts.

Mandatory home inspections

A member asked about making home inspections mandatory for real estate transactions in New York State. It was discussed by the Board. The best system to compare this to is the property appraisal system, which is already in use. Appraisal reports must be in a uniform format. Although New York State has a Standard of Practice set forth for home inspections, reporting formats actually vary widely among home inspectors, with many exceeding the Standard to provide more in-depth service. Like appraisals, mandating a home inspection report would essentially reduce it to filling out a form, similar to the HUD forms used for property condition / compliance inspections. Along with the variation in home inspection reporting formats comes variation in pricing. If reports were to be delivered in a standardized format, this would lead to "apples-to-apples" comparison shopping for consumers and ultimately end up driving down the market price of a home inspection. This is exactly what occurs in the appraisal industry, not to mention that banks have changed the way appraisers are hired, making it very difficult for appraisers to maintain client lists and living wage pricing for their work. NYSAHI resources would be stretched in an attempt to change the rules of the NYS mortgage industry as well as dealing with the real estate lobby, who would likely oppose any measure to make home inspections mandatory. The board duly decided that it was not worthwhile to pursue this measure.

Paid Referrals and Preferred Vendor Programs

From the Code of Ethics for Home Inspectors for the State of New York, Title 19 NYCRR: 197-4.7 Conflicts of Interest:

e) Home inspectors shall not directly or indirectly compensate, in any way, real estate brokers, real estate salespersons, real estate brokerage companies, lending institutions or any other party or parties that expect to have a financial interest in closing the transaction, for future referrals of inspections or for inclusion on a list of recommended inspectors or preferred providers or any similar arrangement.


The Code of Ethics for Home Inspectors in the State of New York clearly includes a provision prohibiting paying for referrals. This is obvious to most inspectors, but can become muddied when hidden within a “preferred vendor” marketing program. The Code of Ethics sets forth the position that payment to be placed on a list of “preferred providers” is payment for referrals.

Professionals have a duty to act in good faith toward their clients. Paying for referrals and participating in preferred vendor programs, as interpreted by the Code of Ethics, violates our responsibility to act in good faith toward our clients. The home inspection client should be able to have a reasonable expectation that when a home inspector is being recommended, the referral is based on merit, experience, and knowledgabilty, not on the payment of what could be interpreted as a bribe to the referring party.

A major part of all ethical codes involves the avoidance of conflicts of interest that can compromise, or appear to compromise, professional independence, objectivity, and integrity. Referring individuals whose interests lie in the successful sale of real estate, and home inspectors, acting in good faith toward their clients, may well have conflicting interests.

Placement on a list of “preferred providers” constitutes a referral. There is no real difference between being recommended verbally or in writing, singly or as part of a small group, such as a short list of “preferred inspectors”. When placement on such a list is contingent upon payment of a fee, it represents a payment for referral. It is misleading to the client, who does not know that the home inspector paid for the privilege of being placed on that list.

The State of New York, under the enforcement division of the Department of State, is pursuing legal action against inspectors who participate in these pay-to-play schemes. In addition, disgruntled clients may use the existence of a contractual arrangement between an inspector and a real estate agency in a lawsuit against the inspector. Conflicts of interest aren’t just ethical violations, they are a source of potentially significant liability. Home inspectors should be very cautious about developing business relationships with realty agents or brokers that might compromise, or appear to compromise, the integrity of the inspectors, or the profession, and increase their liability. Any financial arrangement with a real estate agency constitutes a slippery slope toward a clear conflict of interest. Many home inspectors welcome and appreciate the referral of business from real estate agents, believing that such referrals represent a genuine expression, on the part of the agent, of confidence in the knowledge, competence, and integrity of the inspector. We strongly believe that, in the long run, adherence on the part of home inspectors to the strong ethical principles embodied in the Code of Ethics, and the avoidance of potential conflicts of interest, will encourage rather than reduce future referrals and recommendations, and will work to the benefit of the profession as a whole.

Alerts and Bulletins

Heads Up: Drones and Home Inspectors


Heads Up!



SUAS Used In Home Inspections

Advances in Home Inspection technology now include Small Unmanned Aerial Systems (Drones). Since 2014 many Home Inspectors have incorporated a SUAS in their tool kit. Most drone platforms can easily and safely be deployed with some training, experience and good luck.

The dropping cost of a mid-range drone has made investing in a drone more cost effective.The advantages of adding a drone to your Home Inspection business are limited only by one’s imagination. Aerial photography can capture unseen issues during an inspection but also can lead to new ancillary services. Roof inspections are the primary use. Added to that are chimney inspections, plot mapping, insurance claims, and MLS real estate photos. Software developed by the roofing industry like Eagle View make use of real time aerial photos for roofing cost estimates. Using a drone can set a Home Inspector apart from their competition or leave you behind the pack as they become more common.

New York State SUAS requirements restrict where a drone can be flown and require compliance with all FAA Rules. Operating a drone in the New York City area is illegal. Check with your local FAA and City Legal Department for specific local requirements. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules require that Home Inspectors (or anyone else) that fly ANY SUAS (OF ANY SIZE) for any commercial purpose MUST have a FAA Remote Pilot’s Certification. There are potential penalties for flying a commercial drone without first obtaining a remote pilot’s certificate or not registering a SUAS (if over 0.55 lbs) with the FAA ($5 registration fee). Failure to follow these laws may result in civil penalties of up to $32,666 per incident. Warnings have been issued as the public becomes more aware of requirements. This will not last.

Aeronautical Knowledge Testing for a Remote Pilot Certificate must be done in-person at an approved FAA knowledge testing center. The cost for the test is $175.00. Study the provisions under CFR 107.

A Home Inspector that operate a SUAS without a Remote Pilots Certification for commercial use might also be subject to sanction and/or fines under the NYS Home Inspection Licensing Law. “Home Inspectors shall not accept or perform services in which the Home Inspector knows or has reason to know that he or she is not competent to perform.”

NYSAHI strongly encourages safe use of registered SUAS (drones) with proper certification. Safety and the enhancement of professionally written Home Inspection Reports makes drone use a must have for many Home Inspectors.

FAA website: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) | Federal Aviation Administration (faa.gov)


Heads Up: NYSDOH Radon Reporting Clarification


Heads Up!



NYSDOH Radon Reporting Clarification

NYSDOH REQUIREMENT FOR REPORTING YOUR RADON LAB
I thought my Lab handled that for me!


NYSDOH Radon Lab Reporting Clarification

NYSAHI followed up on a concerning question from a Sustaining Member regarding a NYS Department of Health website statement about a requirement for radon test reporting that the Member had not been aware of.

They had thought their ELAP approved lab handled all their required reporting…

THE SHORT STORY is that if your radon tests are analyzed by an external ELAP approved laboratory, that lab will be sending the required report twice a year to NYSDOH for you and you have no further reporting obligation. However, if you want to be listed as a Radon Tester on the NYSDOH website, you must report your external lab twice a year and provide all of the information for your listing.

Read on for more detailed information…

REFERENCE: (Information for Radon Professionals/ For Radon Testing Firms/ELAP Certified Laboratories): https://www.health.ny.gov/

This is the statement in the DOH website that was the cause for the inquiry:

“Part 16 of the New York State Sanitary Code requires the reporting of County or Zip Code and number of measurements. You are only required to report the name of the laboratory in cases where the laboratory reports the radon results to DOH.”

NYSAHI followed up for you to sort this out…

NYSAHI Inquiry#1 to NYSDOH: Is there a requirement for a Radon Tester to provide the name of their ELAP approved lab to DOH?

NYSDOS Reply: There is not a requirement for a radon tester to provide the name of their laboratory to the DOH Radon Program. We do ask for it just to make sure the tester is using an ELAP-certified lab.

Following NYSAHI Inquiry #2 to NYSDOH for clarity:

  1. Please confirm that there is no requirement to report the name of a radon tester’s external laboratory ELAP to DOH.
  2. Alternatively, please describe specifically the required procedure to do so including when the submission is required and how often and where and how that statement should be sent (email, letter, fax???).
  3. If there is NO REQUIREMENT and submission is voluntary, please explain why the submission is needed by NYSDOH and specifically how any submission should be made and when and where that statement should be sent.


NYSDOS Reply (Summarized):

“As stated in the regulations 10 NYCRR 16.130, radon testers and mitigators are required to report the number of tests and mitigations by county or zip code twice a year.”

“The NYS Radon Program reports this information to the US EPA twice a year as well. Reporting to EPA is a requirement of the State Indoor Radon Grant.”

You are requested (not required) to report the name of the laboratory
to DOH in cases where the laboratory reports your radon results directly to DOH.

Recapped…

All your reporting under the requirement is met if:
  • You provide radon testing services only (not mitigation).
  • And your tests are conducted with passive measurement devices that are sealed and sent to an ELAP approved laboratory for analysis and that lab submits the required report directly to NYSDOH.

    FYI: NYS ELAP (Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Program):
    https://www.wadsworth.org/

  • Or, you use continuous radon monitors (CRM) that transmit measurements directly to an ELAP approved laboratory for analysis and that lab submits the required report directly to NYSDOH.
DO NOT submit the required report to DOH if your lab is doing that for you.
This avoids duplicate counting of tests by the State and Federal government.

Home Inspectors whose testing relies on their ELAP approved lab for reporting, may report their lab to NYSDOH twice each year by January 31st and July 31st to assist DOH with their oversight of the NYS Radon Program. They may reply to a NYSDOH email reminder or send an email with the following information to radon@health.ny.gov.
  • REF: Notification of Laboratory Reporting Radon Measurements
  • Home Inspector/Tester Name (from license):
  • Home Inspector/Tester Company Name:
  • Name of ELAP Approved Laboratory Reporting Radon Test Results for Me:

The DOH reply also included: “To remain listed on the NYSDOH radon webpage as a radon tester, you must submit either the number of tests per county or a statement that a laboratory is reporting for you twice a year to remain listed on the webpage.”

This raised more questions sent to DOH (NYSAHI Inquiry #3):
  • So, if licensed Home Inspectors send the requested notification to DOH of their external lab, they will be listed as a Certified Radon Tester at https://www.health.ny.gov/?
  • If they only provide their name and external lab, will you have the information to add them to the web pages?
  • Do they need to provide all of the info that is shown in the webpage listings (company name, address, etc.)?
  • Do they need to provide any evidence of certification? (NYS currently does not require certification. Will only certified be listed? Will various certifications be accepted (for instance NACHI, NRSB...? It seems that without a NYS requirement for certification, limiting listings to certified testers may not be appropriate.)
  • If a tester provides service in multiple counties, do they need to advise which counties?
  • Do the reports from the external lab identify the tester in their counts in the reports to DOH? If so, why aren't all of those reported for listed on the webpage?
NYSDOH promptly replied:
  • To be listed on the DOH website, you need to be certified by NRPP, NRSB, or ELAP and report as required under 16.130.
  • The State Indoor Radon Grant that we get from EPA requires us to keep a list of radon testers and mitigators on our website. We can only list testers and mitigators certified by an organization approved by EPA. Right now, that is limited to NRPP and NRSB. We had to go through a special process to get them to recognize ELAP so that we could list ELAP-certified labs as well.
  • If a tester is appropriately certified, I would need all of the information…name, company name, address, phone number, email and counties where services are provided in order to list them on our website.
  • Only one of the ELAP labs provides a list of their clients. The rest just provide a gigantic spreadsheet listing every test they have performed and the county it is located in.


NYSAHI works to support the Home Inspectors of New York in fully complying with prevailing law and regulation in their inspection and testing work and we rely on regulatory agencies to be responsive so that we can effectively do that.

We wish to thank the NYS Dept. of Health Radon Program staff for their prompt and informative replies to our questions!





Bulletin: Massachusetts Right to Home Inspection Bill


Bulletin



Massachusetts Right to Home Inspection Bill

This bill, if it should become law, will provide every homebuyer, regardless of other conditions of sale, with the right to a state regulated home inspection by a licensed Home Inspector. NYSAHI hardily supports and applauds this initiative and is investigating its politics including how it came to be raised in the legislature, the factions calling for it, those that may oppose it, and the chances for its success in becoming law. This is clearly an essential protection for consumers in perhaps the most expensive and complex purchase of their life. Homes purchased without a proper home inspection can cause the new homeowners life-changing problems including: serious threats to the health of them and their families; money pit situations that can drain limited financial resources; foreclosures by lenders when maintenance and repair demands on new homeowners exceed what they could reasonably anticipate without professional guidance; associated mental and familial distress; etc.

NYSAHI has been greatly concerned about trends in the real estate industry that force home buyers into situations where they must waive state-regulated home inspections to be competitive in their purchase offers. No home should ever be purchased without a proper home inspection. We intend to learn what we can from the Massachusetts initiative and lobby our legislature to begin the process of creating a similar bill in New York State.

This matter is well described in a January 31st, 2023 article by Jim Morrison in the Boston Globe, “Mass. legislators file bill to preserve right to home inspections”.

NYSAHI will keep you posted on developments.

Alert: Proposed Licensing for Radon Testing


Alert



PROPOSED LICENSING for RADON TESTING

The process has been started to license radon testing and radon mitigation in New York State. As an early step in that process, a Radon Advisory Committee was created to study the matter and to produce a report of recommendations for any proposed legislation necessary to implement such findings. That report is being finalized by the committee. NYSAHI is in favor of appropriate regulation to ensure that radon testing and mitigation is conducted properly. NYSAHI hasbeen monitoring this process for you, as we want the home inspectors of New York to be able to continue to offer radon measurement without any undue burden. Based on our review of an early draft of the report, two key recommendations include:
  • Requirement that anyone measuring or mitigating radon will have to be certified by either the National Radon Proficiency Program (NRPP) or the National Radon Safety Board (NRSB).
  • Once certified, radon measurement and mitigation professionals must then be licensed by New York State.
We have some concerns about the process up to this point and the draft report we reviewed. As it stands, we have found that this could be a threat to your business. Some of our concerns include:
  • The influence of radon mitigator business interests appear to be pushing the Committee recommendations to make it more expensive, time consuming and difficult for independent home inspectors to offer radon testing. This will destroy the ability of independent home inspectors to be competitive with mitigators who offer home inspection, since homebuyers want one-stop shopping for inspection and testing. This can put us out of business.
  • Although independent home inspectors are a primary provider of radon and are a stakeholder in this matter, no home independent home inspector that just measures radon was on the committee.
  • NYS control and oversight of our radon testing services will be delegated to radon mitigator controlled professional organizations.
  • We are concerned about the potential additional effort and cost for home inspectors to continue measuring radon.
  • There are no provisions for conflict-of-interest protections for separating testing/inspection from mitigation/abatement/repairs, as there is for home inspections, mold, and asbestos.

The report with recommendations has not been finalized. The next step is a public comment period. When the report is available to us, we will notify you so all the home inspectors in NY can provide input.

You can download a PDF that unpacks the complicated details of this threat.

We will send you updated information as it becomes available. Please be prepared to respond to the Committee report during the public comment period. This is critical and we will provide information to help you do that. AND…PLEASE become a sustaining member of NYSAHI to enable us to stay on top of this matter and other issues affecting your businesses.


Bulletin: New Seller Form for Surveillance Disclosure


Bulletin



NEW SELLER FORM for SURVEILLANCE DISCLOSURE

Eavesdropping on Home Inspection can be a Felony!
The New York State Association of Realtors (NYSAR) has developed a new disclosure form regarding audio & visual recording device use during real estate activities. Owners/Landlords/Property Managers are advised that if they are not a party to a conversation, it is felony criminal violation of NYS Law to eavesdrop on that conversation using any device, streaming or otherwise, that records or remotely plays the conversation of those involved, such as in real estate-related activities at a subject property (open houses, showings, etc. … home inspections included). This is important for home inspectors and our clients to know, as it relates directly to maintaining client confidentiality during a home inspection.

We understand that NYSAR’s Surveillance Disclosure form should now be in common use in NYS home real estate transactions. NYSAHI highly recommends that you ask your client for a copy of that form at the same time you ask them for a copy of the Property Condition Disclosure. In this way you will help ensure that the new form is used by the listing agent, that it is completed by the seller, and that you and your buyer client are aware of the Surveillance status of the home you inspect for them.

Check the NYSAR website (https://www.nysar.com/) for more information. You may need to login to get access to their notice and the form. Contact us at NYSAHI with any questions or concerns.

NYS Bills in the current
legislative session that could
affect home inspectors

Following is a list of links to Assembly and Senate bills that are currently making the rounds through the legislature. Further down are bills that have become law. Any of these active bills, should they become law, could affect home inspectors in New York State. Environmental testing legislation is considered as well because many home inspectors earn extra income through testing, such as for well water and radon.

Each link brings you to the page where the bill text resides. On that page, click the "Text" box there to view full text of the bill. Bills numbers begin with A or S, which desginate whether they are assembly or senate bills. Identical bills often make their way concurrently through both the assembly and senate.

New York State Bills and Laws

Search for NY State Bills and Laws.

Contact Your Legislator

Click here for the Assembly and Senate members pages where you can search for your representatives by zip code, find phone numbers and mailing addresses or send an email.

Search for active legislation in the Assembly and Senate



ACTIVE LEGISLATION


A1194A Well Water and Water Supply Education Act

A1194A
2019-2020 and related Bills
Creates the well water and water supply education act; requires the department of health to establish and maintain a public education program on the potential hazards of private water supplies; requires home inspectors, licensed real estate agents and brokers to provide private water supply education materials to prospective buyers of property where such property is serviced by a private water supply and contact information for relevant local health organizations.

Status: ACTIVE: Referred to Ways & Means Committee (01/08/2020)
Versions Introduced in Other Legislative Sessions:

2011-2012: A7866
2013-2014: A1039
2015-2016: A804
2017-2018: A310, S5031
2021-2022: S47

A09533 / S00048 Private Well Testing Act

A09533 / S00048
2021 - 2022 and related Bills
Enacts the "private well testing act". Authorizes the department of health to promulgate rules and regulations to establish standards for the testing of drinking water from privately owned wells.

Status: ACTIVE: In Committee - Amended and printed as S00048A
Versions Introduced in Other Legislative Sessions:

2015-2016: S7297
2017-2018: S119
2019-2020: S1854
2023-2024: S1650, A5979

* NYSAHI is following this legislation but has “back-burnered” it because the Board decided that it is unlikely to become law due to substantial added expense in home sales.

A5054 Lead Free Homes Act

A5054
2023-2024
Enacts the "Lead Free Homes Act"; requires the department of health to promulgate standards for lead remediation and abatement of exemption; provides tax credits to class A multiple dwelling owners who undertake a successful lead remediation or abatement; requires lead testing on drinking water prior to the sale of residential property; requires owners of class A multiple dwellings to perform lead testing and provides for fines for violations.

Status: ACTIVE - Referred to health committee as of 8 Apr 2023

MADE LAW


A01967 / S05400 Flood Insurance Disclosure

A01967 / S05400
Signed into Law by Governor 9/22/2023 (Effective March 2024, 180 days after 9/22/23)

Amends the real property law, in relation to requiring disclosure of information concerning flood insurance on property condition disclosure statements and repeals section 467 of the real property law relating to liability with respect to property disclosures (Sellers can no longer avoid providing the required Property Condition Disclosure by paying a $500 fine.)

A09135 / S8890 First-Time Homebuyer Tax Exemption Extension

A09135 / S8890
Signed by GOV Aug 2022
Extends the date allowable for tax exemptions for first-time homebuyers of newly constructed homes to December 31, 2028.

(Exemption from property tax cannot be for more than 5 years and must be legally adopted as local law by a municipality or by school board resolution, after public hearing.)

A3714 / S5097 Mold History Disclosure

A3714 / S5097
Signed by GOV 12/16/22
Requires the disclosure of indoor mold history upon the sale of certain real property.

New York Property disclosure form DOS 1614 (REV 8/06) has not been updated; Law Effective June 2023

Join NYSAHI
...or renew dues here

Join NYSAHI strengthen our voice in Albany! There has been no more important time to become a Member of NYSAHI. Support our essential work on your behalf, including influencing the development of Radon Testing Regulation and leading our NYS initiative for a Right to Home Inspection Bill. Annual Membership dues is a small price to pay to have representatives watching trends and government to protect your interests and our profession. Join NOW and get your Home Inspector associates to come along with you. More Members equals More Influence.

MEMBERSHIP
Member Qualifications
Membership is available to individuals currently licensed as Home Inspectors in New York State and those who are retired, but had been a NYS licensed Home Inspector.

Membership Rights and Restrictions
  • Only Members who are currently licensed Home Inspectors in New York State may vote on issues brought before the Membership by the Board of Directors.
  • Only Members who are currently licensed Home Inspectors in New York State and are legal residents of NYS may apply to be a Board Director.
  • Member dues are annual for the calendar year. Only Members may represent their association with NYSAHI to the public and they may only do so for the current year that they are a paid Member. Use of NYSAHI logos or any representation of association with NYSAHI by anyone when not a currently paid Member is otherwise prohibited.
  • Membership is individual. Multi-inspector companies may not make representations of NYSAHI affiliation unless each of their inspectors is a current NYSAHI Member.
NYSAHI DUES
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NYSAHI monitors developments in the real estate marketplace and State and Federal government. Among others, NYSAHI is currently engaged in these very important legislative/regulatory issues:
  • Right to Home Inspection- Promoting creation of a NYS law to ensure that no buyer can be refused a Home Inspection in purchase of a home. No buyer should be denied the appropriate due diligence of a regulated professional Home Inspection.
  • Development of Radon Testing Regulation - Ongoing advocacy to state and federal agencies and the NYS Legislature to protect Home Inspectors from unreasonable requirements and expense that could put them out of business.

Contact Us


Please contact us about issues of regional or state-wide importance directly relating to Home Inspection in New York State.

Please DO NOT contact us with questions of primarily individual concern, such as where to find training, continuing education, or work. We suggest going to https://dos.ny.gov/home-inspector or doing a web search for NYS Home Inspection professional association.

Please DO NOT contact us with complaints relating to specific Home Inspections. NYSAHI is not involved in enforcement of Home Inspection law and does not get involved in disputes. We encourage customers to contact their Home Inspector to work through any issues. Otherwise, complaints should be taken up with the NYS Department of State that regulates our profession. https://dos.ny.gov/home-inspector

DO NOT send unsolicited advertising of your products and services.

Inappropriate email will be ignored.

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