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UPDATE April 4: Home Inspections – An Essential Service in Ontario

Published on April 4, 2020

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OAHI's response to the updated Provincial Essential Services list 

that becomes effective as of 11:59 pm April 4, 2020

April 4, 2020

Re: Home Inspections – An Essential Service in Ontario

Dear OAHI Member Inspectors and Stakeholders,

Ontario has revised the list of essential service on April 3, 2020. OAHI consulted our corporate counsel for interpretation on your behalf. OAHI’s corporate counsel has confirmed that home inspections are still essential “…in the context of a real estate transaction process…”.

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

Should you decide to perform home inspections during the pandemic, OAHI urges you to enforce physical distancing on site and limit your risks, including, but not limited to 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; encourage sellers to leave the house, buyers to not attend, and realtors to wait outside. Review inspection reports by phone or teleconference.

• Postpone or cancel any work if you feel unwell or unsafe.

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,

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John Hansen

OAHI President

On behalf of the OAHI Board of Directors

 

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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 revised list of essential workplaces in response to COVID-19 (the “List”) issued on April 3, 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.  However, paragraph 1 of the List reads, as follows: “Businesses that supply other essential businesses or essential services within Ontario

       3.  Paragraph 16 of the List reads, as follows: “Businesses that provide the following financial services.

             v.  Real estate agent services.”

  1. Paragraph 20 of the List reads, as follows: “Maintenance, repair and property management services strictly necessary to manage and maintain the safety, security, sanitation and essential operation of institutional, commercial, industrial and residential properties and buildings.”
  1. Paragraph 34 of the List reads, as follows: “Businesses that deliver or support the delivery of services including:

           vii. Professional and social services that support the legal and justice system.”

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 16 and 34, or paragraphs 16 and 1. 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 34, 16 and 1). Alternatively, home inspectors could also be said to supply services to businesses performing real estate agent services (paragraphs 16 and 1).

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 20) or, alternatively, if this work is performed in support of a business that is otherwise an essential business or service (paragraph 1).

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

  Pierre Champagne