Ontario said it plans to start licensing home inspectors in the province as part of legislation that could be passed as early as this fall.
Minister of Government and Consumer Services Marie-France Lalonde said the province plans to introduce laws that would establish minimum standards for home inspections, including the type of information that inspectors would be required to disclose to home buyers and the language inspectors are allowed to use in their contracts. The government said it also plans to create an independent administrative authority to licence the province's more than 1,500 home inspectors.
"These changes would ensure consumers benefit from quality advice, are protected from surprise costs and aware of safety issues before buying a home," the province said in a news release. "This will also create a level playing field for the home inspection industry, preventing inspectors with little or no training from competing with qualified professionals by offering lower rates."
Home inspectors are one of the few professionals tied to Ontario's real estate industry that are not licensed or regulated, even though nearly 65 per cent of all homes sold on the resale market in Ontario are inspected each year, according to government estimates.
Currently, home inspectors are governed by a patchwork of different industry organizations, each with their own training programs and accreditation standards, although industry associations have urged the government to introduce rules that would apply to all inspectors.
Ontario has been examining the issue of licensing home inspectors since 2013, when the idea was among 35 recommendations made by an expert panel the province created to study ways to strengthen consumer protection in the housing market.
Liberal MPP Han Dong introduced a private members' bill in February that sought to license the industry, prompting the government to announce plans to draft its own legislation.
If the legislation passes, Ontario would join B.C. and Alberta as the only provinces in Canada to regulate the home-inspection industry. The B.C. government announced earlier this year that it planned to tighten its regulations governing home inspectors, including requiring inspectors to have liability insurance, introducing stricter rules around record-keeping and banning contracts that limit an inspectors' liability.