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RISMEDIA, Jan. 7, 2008-Later this month, when state legislators in Florida, Pennsylvania and California reconvene for the 2008 session, they may want to take a close look at the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) 2007 state ranking of the best and worst home inspection regulation laws in the United States. In the last 10 years, 28 states have enacted some form of home inspection regulation. Many wonder, however, if these laws are enough to protect the interests of consumers.

“Florida is the latest state to regulate home inspection,” said Frank Lesh, 2007 ASHI president. “We wonder why lawmakers would enact a law that does not require home inspectors in the state of Florida to take and pass a valid psychometric examination or adhere to standards of practice?”

ASHI’s 2007 position statement includes a recommendation that states authorize a sunrise review by a neutral public agency to determine the need, costs, benefits and alternatives to the proposed regulations prior to adoption. This is in addition to ASHI’s 2006 provision to evaluate whether laws as drafted are enforceable.

Pennsylvania, for example, was ranked fifth on ASHI’s 2005 list but dropped dramatically in 2006 and 2007 because the state’s “inspector experience” requirement as stated was not enforceable. California has been ranked dead last for two years because several of its provisions — including its “prohibited acts” provision, which outlines an inspector’s code of ethics — cannot be enforced.

ASHI’s 2007 State Rankings

Below are ASHI’s 2007 rankings of state regulations governing the home inspection industry from best to worst:
1. Louisiana
2. New Jersey
3. Arizona
4. Texas
5. Massachusetts
6. Connecticut/North Carolina
8. Arkansas
9. Indiana
10. Rhode Island/West Virginia
12. South Dakota/Tennessee
14. Mississippi
15. Virginia
16. Wisconsin
17. Oklahoma
18. Kentucky
19. Alaska/Illinois
21. Alabama/Oregon/New York
24. Maryland
25. Nevada
26. Florida
27. Pennsylvania
28. South Carolina
29. Montana
30. North Dakota
31. Georgia
32. California

Note: Rankings are based upon the overall grading of states with existing laws regulating home inspectors where “1” indicates the best ranking “32” indicates the poorest ranking.

Criteria for State Rankings

ASHI’s state ratings are based on a multi-criteria system. Because laws vary significantly from state to state, a detailed set of criteria is used to review each state’s regulation to determine the positive elements of legislation as well as areas that may need improvement. States receive points according to the weight or importance ASHI places on different regulation standards and are evaluated against 13 criteria, including experience, education, testing requirements, standards of practice and codes of ethics.

ASHI’s Model Licensing Bill

In addition to providing rankings for each state, the ASHI Position Statement includes a model licensing bill that states can use as a guideline to develop strong home inspector legislation. The model also provides information about appointing a governing body to administer the laws, and it proposes that members of the governing body be free of conflicts of interest in the regulation of home inspectors.

“Legislators in each state must determine whether regulation is necessary to protect their constituents,” said Lesh. “Should they decide to take that route, ASHI is dedicated to providing guidelines for laws that are meaningful to the consumer and foster excellence within the home inspection profession.”

ASHI encourages legislators who are interested in adopting home inspection laws to look to Louisiana, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, or Massachusetts as models for legislation. States without home inspection regulation are: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, Washington and Wyoming.

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