Frustrated over fee hike
Trevor Nichols - Jan 11 - Biz Releases

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The Home Inspector Association of BC is calling foul after learning its members will soon face a dramatic increase in the cost of their licenses.

Consumer Protection BC, which regulates the province’s home inspectors, plans to ratchet up licensing fees over the next three years, from the current $525, to $1,114 for new licenses and $1,025 for license renewals.

HIABC president Bob Hamm believes the increases are wildly unfair, because they don’t accurately reflect what Consumer Protection BC actually spends to regulate his industry.

The HIABC, which is one of four home inspector associations representing BC home inspectors, calculates Consumer Protection BC made $283,000 from licensing fees in 2016, and spent $247,350 regulating the home inspection industry.

That leaves an annual surplus of $35,650. So why, Hamm asks, does CPBC need to raise fees so dramatically?

New standards

Consumer Protection BC did not agree to be interviewed, but a spokesperson explained in an email the fee increases “reflect our need to recover costs for additional responsibilities we took on as a result of the changes made to the home inspector regulatory model in September 2016.”

CPBC is an independent, non-profit corporation mandated by the government to completely cover its own costs. In a “fee review backgrounder” sent to home inspectors, CPBC says the “costs for licensing and regulating [the home inspectors] sector have increased significantly since 2015.”

“Every effort is made to control and manage the cost of regulating the sector; however, with recent changes to the law and related shifts in our costs, some increases are unavoidable,” the CPBC says.

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Home Inspector Association of BC President Bob Hamm

In 2016, the government mandated that CPBC expand its responsibilities for overseeing the sector. Now, the organization assesses new applicant’s qualifications, and has assumed all responsibility for consumer inquiries from the sector (something it used to share with home inspector associations).

The changes mean less control for home inspector associations, and to Hamm and the HIABC represent “weakened home inspection standards.”

The association says the 2016 rules reduced standards for training and education; removed the requirement for ongoing education and professional development; and created a new category of unaligned inspectors who have no association oversight.

“What consumer protection is doing is asking for a lot of extra money to provide lower standards in the future,” Hamm says.


Costlier for homeowners

What this will mean, Hamm says, is homeowners paying more money for inspections, and new inspectors having a harder time financially.

While the latest increase might not lead to a direct increase in the fees home inspectors charge their clients, Hamm says inspectors have been absorbing costs for a while, and eventually that will lead to higher prices.

“People will be asking, is this another one I absorb, or will I bite the bullet and raise my fees?” he says.

Higher fees will also hit new inspectors particularly hard, Hamm adds, and could discourage people from entering the trade.

He explains that most new inspectors enter the trade having just spent $20,000 on their training, and they have a lot of expenses with a smaller client base.

“They are usually in a position where they’re losing money in their first year, and to have to absorb those fees is a hard pill to swallow for them,” he says.

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A big part of HIABC’s complaint is that the CPBC is running inefficiently, and that it should look to improve its internal processes before farming out the cost to home inspectors.

Hamm says his association looks at essentially the same documents when renewing its members as CPBC does to renew licenses. However, the HIABC is able to process dozens a day, while CPBC says it takes several days to process a single application.

“When we look at our efficiency compared to what they are doing, it really begs the question what’s going on there,” Hamm says.

HIABC also says it would like to see the government step in and put a stop to what it feels is an unjust fee increase.

The first phase of home inspector license fee increases is scheduled to take effect April 1, 2018.

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