A home inspection is conducted for the purpose of detecting and identifying repairs that need to be made. Home inspections are often required by a local municipal board to ensure that the house meets safety and zoning standards. More often, they can be privately requested by persons that are seeking to purchase or sell a home.
Home inspections are also common when additions are constructed on the home, such as when a patio is installed. In such cases, a home inspection would be needed to determine whether the new structure is allowed by housing laws, and whether the structure would meet safety standards.
What are Some Examples of Home Inspection Fraud or Scams?
A common form of home inspection fraud occurs when an inspector makes a false report. The report usually states that a certain repair needs to be made, when in fact it may not need to be fixed at all. This usually happens when the inspector advertises their own repair services in conjunction with their repair services. You should be wary of any inspector who offers to repair services as a package with their inspections. To avoid this type of fraud, many states do not allow inspectors to make repairs on a home until after a certain waiting period, such as one year after the inspection.
Another type of home inspection scam has to do with the sale and purchase of a home. Sometimes a home inspector will work conspire with a buyer and create a false report. The report will state that the seller needs to make certain repairs or installations before the buyer will consider purchasing the home. It turns out that the repairs did not actually need to be done, and so the buyer essentially receives free “repairs” or installations, and the inspector gets paid for their extra work. Sometimes the inspector will work with the seller and force the buyer to pay for fake repairs.
This is a particularly dangerous type of home inspection fraud because home inspection reports are not often communicated between the buyer and seller. Also, many sellers or buyers fail to verify that a home inspection report is actually true.
A home inspector can also be held liable for failing to identify a defect. They can be held liable if they have broken or breached any contract provisions. Home inspector liability laws vary from region to region.
How can I Prevent Home Inspection Fraud?
Regarding the first type of home inspection fraud, you should always avoid having the repairs done by the same person who inspected the home. You should have a separate person conduct the inspection, and then have a different party execute the repairs or installations. Always check that the inspector has a valid license and that they do not have a history of fraud.
If you are seeking to purchase or sell a home, you may wish to consider hiring your own inspector, even if the other party claims that they will provide one. That way, you will be able to compare the results of various inspections. Take note of any figures or claims that seem suspicious. In any event, always request to see the inspection report, and verify that it is not fraudulent.
Finally, you should always present your inspection requests in the form of a bid. Inform any potential inspectors that you have several other inspectors that you are considering hiring. If an inspector knows that other inspectors will be reviewing their prices and costs, they will be less likely to commit fraud for fear of being exposed.
Do I Need a Lawyer for Home Inspection Fraud or Inspection Scams?
If you feel that you have been a victim of home inspection fraud, you should contact a lawyer immediately. You may be able to recover financial losses in a court of law. Also, you may wish to hire a real estate lawyer to negotiate the inspection contract if you are in the process of buying or selling a home or other real estate. That way, you can have the attorney review the transactions for your peace of mind and security.