When you purchase a new home, you will likely have a home inspection done to make sure the home is structurally sound as well as to check for safety issues and how systems and appliances function. This process also helps determine the value of a home or property. A home inspection may be done for many reasons, including:
- Determining the value of a home or property for an appraisal;
- Inspecting the safety of the home;
- Overseeing land use matters or zoning matters; and
- Preparing the property for renovations and improvements.
A home inspection is performed by a professional called a home inspector. A home inspector is responsible for inspecting a home or property for sale, purchase or maintenance purposes. A home inspector may be hired by private parties such as prospective buyers, homeowners, real estate agents or brokers, and mortgage loan companies. Home inspections will usually address the following areas:
- Structural and safety aspects of the home;
- Roofing, windows, and doors;
- The condition of appliances and heating/ventilation systems; and
- Carpets and flooring.
Home inspectors also look for issues that may be violations of local housing codes. These may be issues including alarms, such as fire and carbon monoxide. The cost of an inspection is often based on the age and size of the home.
Who Typically Employs Home Inspectors?
Many cities and municipalities will have inspectors employed to address state and local zoning issues.
Mortgage lenders usually require the buyer to obtain a professional home inspection before the lender will finance the purchase. If the property fails the inspection, or if the home inspection reveals significant issues, the lender may refuse to provide the buyer with financing for the purchase.
Not all home inspectors are certified and some are certified in certain areas. If possible, try to hire a certified home inspector for the most comprehensive home inspection. The outcome of a real estate transaction is often based on the home inspection.
What is Home Inspection Fraud?
Laws regarding home inspector liability vary from state to state. Home inspection fraud can occur if a home inspector issues a false report. This can happen when an inspector includes a necessary repair in a report that does not actually need to be done. A red flag for this issue may be a home inspector who also advertises as a home repair company.
Another example of home inspection fraud may be the inspector working with the buyer to include unnecessary repairs that the seller is required to pay for. The reverse may also occur where the inspector and the seller work together to force the buyer to pay for repairs that did not actually occur.
Home inspectors may also be liable for broken or breached contract provisions. These provisions can be found in the contract between the hiring party and the home inspector.
One way to protect yourself and your home purchase is to review a home inspection checklist. Of course, you are not a home inspector and will not know everything to check for, but you can be aware of obvious hazards and possible issues.
What is the Process for Suing a Home Inspector?
If there is a suspicion of home inspection fraud or there is a strong disagreement regarding the findings of a home inspector, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit against the home inspector. The inspector may be sued directly if they are working independently or through a private organization. Legal action will usually be based on the contract between the client and home inspector.
If the inspector is hired by a city, municipality or the government, you will likely need to file a complaint with the specific agency that employs or is responsible for the inspector. Usually, the agency will conduct an investigation into the issue before a lawsuit is filed.
Are There Any Legal Remedies Involved in a Home Inspection Lawsuit?
Home inspectors may not find or be aware of every fault or defect within a home. Some defects are not detectable and some will develop over time.
However, if the home inspector was negligent during the inspection, they may be liable for losses or injuries that resulted from their negligent conduct. For example, suppose that the homeowner is injured when a deck collapses which was clearly not structurally sound. If the home inspector should have noted the issue in their report, the inspector may be liable for the homeowner’s injuries.
Legal remedies usually include a damages award to reimburse the plaintiff for the losses resulting from the faulty inspection. A court may order another inspection. If a home inspection report is misleading, the buyer may request an injunction, which is a court order preventing the sale from going forward.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help Suing a Home Inspector?
If you need to sue a home inspector, you should consult with a qualified real estate attorney. Your attorney can evaluate your case and help you determine if fraud has occurred. Your attorney can provide you with advice and assist you in obtaining the appropriate award or remedy for your situation.