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Home Inspections – An Essential Service in Ontario

Published by Erica Phillips

Published on March 25, 2020

Dear OAHI Member Inspectors and Stakeholders,

Following the release of the essential services list on March 23, OAHI reached out to our corporate counsel following the advice of a government representative. Our goal was to confirm if home inspections are included in the list of essential services.

OAHI’s corporate counsel has confirmed that “home inspectors performing a home inspection in the context of a real estate transaction process are implicitly included in the List…”. PLEASE READ THE FULL LEGAL OPINION BELOW.

OAHI strongly encourages self-isolation, physical distancing and precautions as outlined by Health Canada. Please visit the Health Canada information page HERE.  

If you decide to perform home inspections during the pandemic, OAHI urges you to enforce physical distancing on site and limit your risks. Please consider the following protocols:

  • Include cleaning and disinfecting products in your tool kit, including such things as hand soap, hand sanitizer, disposable hand towels, disinfecting spray and/or wipes, gloves, masks, shoe covers, etc.
  • Wear new, disposable gloves during each inspection
  • Do not touch your face
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow
  • Avoid any physical contact; always maintain a 2-meter distance from others 
  • Clean and disinfect your tools after every inspection
  • Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and warm water
  • Ask realtors to disclose any party that may be at risk or unwell and recognize symptoms may be delayed, or information may not be available
  • Limit inspection attendance as much as possible; review inspection reports by phone or teleconference
  • Postpone or cancel any work if you feel unwell or unsafe

These recommendations are not an exhaustive list. For comprehensive advice, please visit the Health Canada information page HERE.  The pandemic is a rapidly changing crisis. As events unfold OAHI will work hard to keep you informed. Above all, please consider the health and well being of your community.

 

Stay tuned and stay safe,

John Hansen, OAHI President

On behalf of the OAHI Board of Directors

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Home Inspectors as an Essential Service under the Government of Ontario list of essential workplaces in response to COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus)

Hi John, this is further to your request of late in the day today, asking for my opinion as to whether home inspectors are included in the Government of Ontario list of essential workplaces in response to COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus) (the “List”) issued on March 24, 2020.

I am pleased to answer your question. I bring to your attention the following paragraphs of the List and make the following comments in relation to the List:

  1. Home inspectors are not specifically named in the List;
  2. Paragraph 67 of the List reads, as follows: “Land registration services, and real estate agent services and moving services”;
  3. Paragraph 70 of the List reads, as follows: “Businesses that support the safe operations of residences and essential businesses”;
  4. Paragraph 65 of the List reads, as follows: “Professional services including lawyers and para-legals, engineers, accountants, translators”;
  5. Paragraph 1 of the List reads, as follows: “Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services with the support, supplies, systems or services, including processing, packaging, distribution, delivery and maintenance necessary to operate”.

As such, the Government appears to consider that actors in the real estate transaction process are an essential service on the List.

Based on the foregoing paragraphs of the List, my opinion is that home inspectors performing a home inspection in the context of a real estate transaction process are implicitly included in the List through the language of paragraphs 67 and 70, or paragraphs 67 and 1 or, alternatively, perhaps paragraphs 67 and 65. In other words, when home inspectors are asked to perform a home inspection as part of the real estate transaction process, then they can be said to be supporting the work of an essential business performing real estate agent services (paragraphs 67 and 70). Alternatively, home inspectors could also be said to supply services to businesses performing real estate agent services (paragraphs 67 and 1). In the further alternative, if an additional argument is necessary, home inspectors could perhaps argue that they are individuals offering professional services in the same way as para-legals do so (paragraphs 65).

As for home inspection services performed outside of the context of a real estate transaction process, the List is less clear as to whether such services would be included. As such, I am not able to authoritatively state that such services are covered by the List unless individual inspectors believe that there is a valid argument that their services are part of a business that support the safe operations of residences (paragraph 70) or, alternatively, if this work is performed in support of a business that is otherwise an essential business or service (paragraph 1). In the further alternative, if an additional argument is necessary, home inspectors could perhaps argue that they are individuals offering professional services in the same way as para-legals do so (paragraphs 65).

I trust that this is helpful and remain available to answer any question that you may have.

Pierre Champagne

Partner

Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP
Suite 2600, 160 Elgin Street
Ottawa ON  K1P 1C3
Canada