Good news to hear that Ontario plans on regulating the home inspection industry, and that, among other things, they will be banning the limited liability clauses that appear in so many home inspection contracts.
The limited liability clauses appear in different forms depending on the inspector because right now, there is no regulatory body, no standard code of ethics, and no basic requirements. Some contracts restrict buyers to the return of their home inspection fee and prohibit them from suing the inspector if the inspector gets something wrong. Others have so many caveats as to render the opinion worthless: for example, a structural engineer who does home inspections who excludes structural issues from the scope of his inspections.
It’s reasonable for a home inspector to say in a contract that his or her inspection will be limited to a visual inspection, and that they can’t go behind the walls. It is not reasonable to force the buyer to sign a contract that says that if they miss something obvious in that visual inspection, the buyer has no recourse.
You’re either an expert, or you’re not, and if you’re going to offer an opinion, the buyer should have the right to rely on it. If it turns out to be wrong, that makes you liable. No contract should take away that right to a remedy, but up until now, many have. (Imagine going to a lawyer who offers an expert opinion and then has you sign a contract that essentially says you can’t rely on his or her advice.)
The new rules will require that certain information be standard in all inspections. A new licensing body will be created to oversee and regulate the new process. Home inspectors will be forced to carry liability insurance and meet certain standards of certification. And thank God, those limited liability clauses will be gone.