Real Estate

Don't waive your right to a home inspection

As tempting as it may be to make an offer with no conditions in this red-hot housing market, Toronto real estate lawyer Sarita Samaroo-Tsaktsiris says it’s unwise to do so, particularly when it comes to a home inspection.

“A prospective homeowner should not waive their right to a home inspection,” she says. “You should know what you're buying.”

Samaroo-Tsaktsiris says failure to complete a thorough inspection prior to purchase can cause a whole host of problems down the line.

“Let’s say you skip the home inspection, purchase the property and then find out there’s a latent defect such as mold. This type of defect is not typically covered by home insurance policies because it may have been caused by the previous owner,” she tells AdvocateDaily.com. “Home insurance is there to provide protection for any damage you have caused.”

Samaroo-Tsaktsiris, founder of SST Law Professional Corporation, recalls a situation where she had clients who didn’t hire a qualified home inspector but instead relied on the seller’s home inspection report.

“There were leaks at the property,” she says. “Then they found mold spores were growing and had expensive mold remediation work completed, which in the end, was luckily reimbursed by the vendors.”

A home inspection gives a purchaser the ability to address anything that needs to be repaired or remedied before the deal closes.

“Depending on the extent of the problem, you could negotiate a reduced purchase price, known as an abatement, rather than have the existing homeowner complete the work for you,” Samaroo-Tsaktsiris says. “If it's minor work, like fixing a door hinge, then it's advisable you put that in your agreement of purchase and sale and create an amendment. However, if the repair work will involve a contractor or other professional, you should ask for an abatement.

“If you leave the major repairs to the the vendor and they don't pay the contractor that can give rise to a construction lien and your title insurer won't provide coverage,” she cautions.

It also not enough to hire any inspector or ask a handy relative to take a look, she says.

“You have to seek out someone who is qualified,” she says.

As CBC News reports, Consumer Services Minister Marie-France Lalonde announced Bill 165 would require home inspectors to be licensed, sets minimum standards for contracts and home inspection reports, and establishes a body to administer and enforce the licensing and regulations. Under the recently introduced bill — the Licensed Home Inspectors Act, 2016 — home inspections can only be carried out by qualified, licensed home inspectors.

Until Bill 165 is enacted, Samaroo-Tsaktsiris recommends seeking out an inspector who is an American Society of Home Inspectors-certified home inspector and energy advisor.

She says until the province has its home inspections better regulated, purchasers should inquire about the credentials of their inspector.

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