Rockland County Home Inspector Licensing Law
NOTICE is hereby given that the Legislature of Rockland County on November16, 1999, passed a local law which was approved by the County Executive, and deemed dully adopted on December 17, 1999. The said local law was filled with the Secretary of State, and a true copy of such local law is as follows:
LOCAL LAW NO. 12 OF 1999
COUNTY OF ROCKLAND
STATE OF NEW YORK
A local law providing for enactment of a home inspector’s license requirement.
Be it enacted by the legislature of the county of Rockland as follows:
Section 1. Legislative intent and purpose.
It is the purpose of the legislature of Rockland County in enacting this law to safeguard and protect real property owners and prospective purchasers by developing testing, standards of practice, a code of ethics and educational requirements for individuals conducting home inspections and protect against potential abuses by regulating the home inspection business by mandating that home inspectors are responsible for their actions and that they are qualified to perform such work. The Legislature finds that a need exists for a more complete understanding between customers and home inspectors engaged in evaluations of buildings and their construction and systems and suitability for their intended use. The Legislature also finds that misunderstandings have arisen because of the lack of a standard body of requirements relating to such inspections and their reports and that certain practices have worked financial and safety hardship upon the people of Rockland County.
Section 2. Definitions.
As used in this local law the following terms shall have the meanings indicated and all references to the masculine gender shall be interpreted to mean to include the feminine gender:
A. Board: The Home Inspector Licensing Board.
B. Inspector: Any person or employee of same who performs or operates a home inspectors business or who undertakes or offers to undertake or agrees to perform any home inspections, whether or not such person is licensed or subject to the licensing requirements of this chapter and whether or not such person is a prime contractor or subcontractor with respect to the owner.
C. Coordinator: the coordinator of consumer protection.
D. Home Inspection:
(1) The examination of a residential property for a fee for the purpose of informing the party who requested the visual examination of the condition of the structure, and/or its component parts to wit:
the plumbing, electrical, heating, air, conditioning systems, the roof, and structural concerns.
E. Home Inspection Report: A report between an inspector and consumer describing the performance of a home inspection, and includes all information and notices that the board may require
F. Licensee: A person permitted to engage in the home inspection business under the provisions of this chapter.
G. Consumer: Any prospective or actual property owner who orders, or contracts for home inspection services by an inspector.
H. Person: An individual, firm, partnership, association or cooperation.
Section 3. License required.
No person shall own, maintain, conduct, operate, engage in or transact a home inspector business after the effective date of this chapter or any amendment thereto or solicit home inspections contracts or hold himself out as being able to do so after such date unless he is licensed there for pursuant to this chapter.
Section 4. Home inspector licensing board
A. There is hereby created a home inspector licensing board consisting of nine (9) members hereinafter referred to as the ‘board." The members of such board shall be residents of the county and shall be appointed by the Rockland County executive as follows:
(1) One member shall be a licensed engineer.
(2) One member shall be a member of the local electrical union or a Rockland county licensed electrician.
(3) One member shall be a licensed realtor who is a member of the Rockland County Board of Realtors.
(4) One member shall be a licensed plumber.
(5) One member shall be a member of a Carpenter’s Union or holder of a home improvement license.
(6) Three members shall be individuals primarily engaged in business as home inspectors.
(7) One member of the public at large.
B. Of the members first appointed, five shall be appointed for terms of one (1) year, and four shall be appointed for terms of two (2) years. Their successors shall be appointed for terms of two (2) years from and after the expiration of the terms of their predecessors in office.
C. The board shall elect a chairman and a vice chairman from its own members.
D. A majority of the board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
E. The Rockland County Executive, subject to the approval of the County Legislature, shall appoint the members of the board and fill any vacancy of said board for the unexpired portion of the term, except that as two of the board members, the County Executive shall consider the County Legislature’s recommendation for said appointments.
F. No compensation shall be paid to the members of the board.
Section 5. Powers and duties of the Board.
This board shall have the following powers and duties in addition to those elsewhere prescribed in this chapter:
A. To hold meetings at the call of the chairman and as such times as the board may determine when necessary or desirable for the efficient discharge of the business of the board, but not less than quarterly. All meetings of such board shall be open to the public. Such boards shall keep minutes of its proceedings, showing the vote of each member upon every question, or if absent or failing to vote, indicating such fact, and shell also keep records of its examinations and other official actions. Every rule, regulation, every amendment or repeal thereof and every decision or determination of the board shall immediately be filed in the office of the clerk in the legislature and the office of county executive and shall be a public record.
B. To establish specific documented degrees from accredited higher educational institutions that would be recognized by the board as satisfactory equivalents for the board’s written examination of applicants for a home inspector’s license (i.e. engineer degree B.S. etc).
C. To examine the qualifications and fitness of applicants for licenses under this chapter or of the representatives of such applicants designated for such purpose.
D. To grant and issue licenses to applicants possessing the requisite qualifications for each category of license established by the board.
E. To suspend or revoke licenses for cause as proscribed in this section.
F. To keep records of all licenses issued, suspended or revoked by it and to make such records available for public inspections, the same to be filed in the office of the coordinator.
G. To prepare a manual of its rules and regulations for the conduct of examinations and qualifications and to furnish copies thereof to persons desiring the same upon payment of a fee as set by the licensing board.
H. To adopt rules and regulations in respect to procedure before it and in respect to any subject matter over which it has jurisdiction under this chapter or any other law after a public hearing by the board and subject to the approval of the Rockland county legislature. Upon adoption and approval of such rules and regulations, they shall be duly filed with the clerk of the Rockland county legislature and the office of the county executive.
I. The Board shall employ experts, clerks and a secretary, subject to the appropriations that may be made therefor by the Rockland county legislature. The Rockland county legislature is hereby authorized and empowered to make such appropriation as it may see fit for such expenses; the amount of the appropriation shall be the estimated charges and expenses, less fees, if any, collected pursuant to the licensing required by this chapter.
Section 6. Examinations by the board; exception; bond and insurance
A. Examinations shall be in writing or in other form as the board may determine. A complete record of every examination shall be kept on file by the board until three (3) years after the date of the examination. Examinations shall be held as such times and places as the board may fix.
B. The applicant shall present himself for examination as the time and place specified in a notice to be given by the board/
C. An applicant who has failed in this first examination shall not be eligible for reexamination until one (1) month from the date of such failure. One who fails twice or more shall not be eligible for further reexamination until at least three (3) months from the date of such second or subsequent failure.
D. No license shall be granted to a person unless he shall prove-to the satisfaction of the Board that he is competent and qualified to perform home inspection work. The board may as a condition to the granting of a license, establish a rule or regulations requiring that the applicant must have a certain number of years of experience performing relevant work relating to real property construction, maintenance, extermination or other work experience which involves building, construction, remodeling and/or repair before the date of the test. The board may recognize approved substitution(s) for years of work experience such as educational degrees and other institutions.
E. Any person applying for a license within one (1) year after the effective date of this chapter who shall have been continuously engaged as an inspector in the business and work of home inspections in the County of Rockland for a period of three (3) years or more preceding such effective date shall be entitled to receive his/her initial license without examination upon payment of the fee prescribed by this chapter/
F. The board may require an application for a license or a renewal application to be accompanied by a bond, approved as a form by the county attorney, executed by a bonding or surety company authorized to do business in the state of New York, or cash security in an amount to be set by the board, but in no event to exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000), conditioned upon the assurance that during the term of such license the licensee will continue to comply with the provisions of this chapter, to assure that upon negligence in the performance of any inspection the consumer will be indemnified from damages resulting from omissions or errors in the inspector’s report, or if said report was negligently or fraudulently made.
G. The board shall require proof from the inspector of personal liability and property damage insurance in an amount to be set by the board.
Section 7. License; display; renewals; duplicates.
A. All licenses, except temporary licenses, shall be for a period of two (2) years from the date of issuance and shall expire on the last day of the 12th month following issuance.
B. Each license issued pursuant to this chapter shall be available for inspection and the licensee’s number shall be conspicuously
displayed on every home inspection report and the license kept posted in some conspicuous place at the home inspector place of business, if the inspector has an office open to the public, or a copy given to each consumer in advance of performing any services, if the inspector works out of a personal residence.
C. Any license, which has not been suspended or removed may, upon the payment of the renewal fee prescribed by this chapter, be renewed for an additional period of one (1) year from its expiration, with or with out a test upon filing of an application for such renewal on a form to be prescribed by the board. Failure to make an application for such renewal while continuing to act as a home inspector within fifteen (15) days prior to the expiration date of the license shall subject the licensee to a penalty of twenty-five dollars ($25) which shall be paid prior to the issuance of the renewal.
D. A duplicate license may be issued for one lost, destroyed or mutilated, upon application there-for on a form prescribed therefor by this section. Each such duplicate license shall have the word "duplicate" stamped across the face thereof and shall bear the same number as the one it replaces.
Section 8. Fees
A. The fee for a license to conduct a home inspection business shall be two hundred ($200.) and for each renewal thereof the fee shall be one hundred fifty dollars (150.00)
B. The fee for issuing each supplementary, duplicate or transfer license for one lost, destroyed or mutilated shall be twenty five dollars ($25)
C. Fees are nonrefundable.
D. The fees herein above set forth shall be those for licenses issued for the license period of two (2) years.
Section 9. Refusal, suspension or revocation of license
A license to conduct, operate, engage in and transact a home inspector business may be refused, suspended or revoked by the board for any one (1) or more of the following causes.
A. Fraud, misrepresentation or bribery in securing a license.
B. The making of any false statement as to a material matter in any application for a license.
C. The person is untrustworthy or not of good character.
D. The business transactions of the inspector have been marked by a practice of failure to perform or negligence in the performance of its inspectors or for fraud or bad faith.
E. Failure to display the license number as provided in this law.
F. Violation of any provision of this section or of any rule or regulation adopted hereunder.
Section 10. Prohibited acts
A. The following acts are prohibited.
(1) Abandonment or willful failure to perform, without justification, any home inspection or project engaged in or undertaken, by an inspector.
(2) Making any substantial misrepresentation in the report of a home inspection or making any false promise likely to influence, persuade or induce the consumer, to buy the property.
(3) Directly or indirectly publishing any advertisement relating to home inspection which contains an assertion, representation or statement of fact which is false, deceptive or misleading, provided that any advertisement which is subject to and complies with the then existing rules, regulations or guides of the federal trade commission shall not be deemed false, deceptive or misleading; or any means of advertising or purporting to offer the general public any home inspection work with the intent not to perform inspections for the particular work or at the price which is advertised or offered to the public.
(4) Willful or deliberate disregard and violation of the building, sanitary and health laws of this state or any political or municipal subdivision thereof.
(5) Willful failure to notify the board of any change of control, business name, location.
(6) Conducting a home inspection business in any name other than the one in which the inspector is licensed.
(7) Willful failure to comply with an order, demand or requirement made by the board pursuant to provision of this section.
(8) Failure to disclose conflicts of interest in the proposed inspections for which the licensee was retained to perform the inspection.
B. No acts, agreements or statements of a consumer under a home inspection contract shall constitute a waiver of any provisions of this chapter intended for the benefit or protection of the consumer.
C. No person shall advertise or hold themselves out as being qualified to perform home inspections as defined in this local law, in Rockland county unless licensed as herein provided, and the license number shall appear in all such advertising.
Section 11. Exceptions
A. No inspector’s license shall be required of any person when acting in the particular capacity or particular type of transaction set forth in this section:
(1) An individual who performs labor or services for homeowner for no fee.
(2) A plumber, electrician, architect, professional engineer or any other such person who is required by state of local law to attain standards of competency or experience as a prerequisite to engaging in such craft or profession and who is acting exclusively within the scope of the craft or profession for which he is currently licenses pursuant to such other licensing law.
(3) Any clerk, clerical, administrative or other employee of a licensed inspector as to a transaction on the premises of the inspector.
B. This section shall not apply to a home inspection agreement otherwise within the purview of this chapter which is made prior to the effective date of the respective provisions of this local law governing such contracts.
Section 12. Report requirements
Every home inspection report shall be subject to the provisions of this section. Every report and any changes in the report subject to the provisions of this section shall be in writing, shall be signed by the home inspector and shall contain the following:
A. The name, address, and license number of the inspector.
B. The date when the work was or is to be performed.
C. A description of all areas or systems inspected, and a statement as to the conditions observed. Every home inspection report shall contain in its body comments on the systems and areas of inspection as may be required by the board as approved and adopted standards and practices of home inspection reports, as may be amended from time to time, any deviation or omission of the required areas of inspection and comments shall be conspicuously noted in the report.
D. The writing shall be legible and shall be in such form as to clearly describe any other document which is to be incorporated into the report.
E. The report and/or home inspection contract shall not contain any waiver of liability, except those waivers approved by the board, including but not limited to limiting the home inspection to visible areas, Identify the inspection as one requested by the consumer to be restricted to requested systems or areas, etc. unless authorized by the board.
F. The writing may also contain other matters agreed to by the parties to the home inspection.
G. Each home inspector shall maintain books of account, copies of all contracts and inspection reports done for consumers and such other records as shall properly and completely reflect all transactions involving the home inspector’s business. These records shall be maintained for six (8) years.
Section 13. Disposition of fees.
All fees derived by the board from the operation of this law’ shall be turned over to the commissioner of finance by the board within ten (10) days after they are received.
Section 14. Liability or damage.
This local law shall not be construed to relieve from nor lessen the responsibility of any home inspector for any loss of life or damage to person or property, nor shall the County of Rockland be deemed to have assumed any such liability by reason of any license issued pursuant to this chapter.
Section 15. Other licenses; powers of municipalities
A license issued pursuant to this local law may not be construed to authorize the licensee to perform any particular type of work or kind of business which is reserved to qualified licensees under separate provisions of state or local law, nor shall any license or degree, other than as is issued or permitted pursuant to this local law, authorize any one to engage in the home inspection business.
Section 16. Suspension or revocation of licenses.
A. Any license issued hereunder may be suspended or revoked, at the discretion of the board, after public hearing upon due notice held, upon charges given to the licensee and an opportunity to be heard in his defense, in person or by an attorney, if the board is satisfied that the holder of such license willfully, or by reason of incompetence, has violated any provision of this chapter, any other law, ordinance, local law, resolution or building code governing home inspectors work or any requirement contained in the rules and regulations of the board and any revisions thereof.
B. Any revocation under subsection A of this section shall be for not less than one year unless otherwise specified by the appeals board pursuant to section 17 of this local law.
Section 17. Appeals.
A. Any person aggrieved by the action of the board in refusing to issue a license or renewal thereof or suspending or revoking a license or making any decisions or determination may take an appeal there from to the Rockland County Legislature within (30) days after the same has been filed with the clerk to the Rockland County Legislature as required herein.
B. The board shall forthwith transmit to the Rockland County Legislature all the papers constituting the record upon which the action appealed from was taken.
C. An appeal stays all proceedings in furtherance of the action appealed from, unless the board certifies to the Rockland County Legislature, after the notice of appeal shall have been filed, that by reason of the fact stated in the certificate a stay would, in its opinion, cause imminent peril to life or property, in which case proceedings shall not be stayed otherwise than by a restraining order, which may be granted by the Rockland County Legislature.
D. The Rockland County Legislature shall, by resolution, designate three (3) of its members to hear appeals.
E. A time shall be fixed for the hearing of the appeal, and notices of the hearing shall be mailed to the appellant and the board at least ten days before the hearing. Upon the hearing any party may appear in person or by agent or by attorney. The Rockland County Legislature, or three of its members designated to hear the appeal, may reverse or affirm, wholly or partly, or may modify the decision or determination or action appealed from and shall make such decision or determination as, in its opinion, ought to be made in the premises and to that end shall have the power of the board from which the appeal is taken.
F. Any person or persons aggrieved by any decision made upon an appeal may apply to the Supreme Court for review by a proceeding under article 78 of the civil practice law and rules, provided that the proceeding is commenced within thirty (30) days after filing the decision in the office of the Clerk to the Legislature.
G. Said appeals shall be limited to evidence relevant to the decided by the board.
Section 18. Standards and practices approval
The board shall submit to the Legislature for approval any standards, practices, procedures and mandatory requirements proposed and adopted by the board prior to said regulation becoming effective.
Section 19. Penalties for offenses.
A. A failure to comply with the provisions of Section 3 and 7 hereof shall constitute an unclassified misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not less than five hundred dollars ($500.) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding one (1) year, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
B. A failure to comply with the other sections of this local law shall constitute a violation and shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding two hundred fifty dollars ($250.) or imprisonment for a period not exceeding fifteen (15) days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.
C. The coordinator of consumer protection and his or her designees shall have the power to issue appearance tickets for breaches of this section as the same are defined in article 150 of the Criminal Procedure Law.
D. Nothing herein contained shall prevent the board from proceeding to enforce, by civil action, the requirements of this local law, and the board may authorize proceedings of both criminal and civil nature at the same time.
E. Notwithstanding any of the provision of this local law to the contrary, the breach of any provision of any section of this chapter shall render the licensee liable for the payment to the county of a civil penalty, to be imposed by the board, recoverable in a civil action in the sum of not more than five hundred ($500) for each such
F. The director of consumer protection may withhold the issuance of a license to any person who has failed to pay any fine or civil penalty imposed pursuant to the provisions of this local law.
Section 20. Separability.
If any part of this local law, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance shall be it judged invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction such judgment shall be confined in its operation to the parts of the provision directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered and shall not effect or impair the validity of the remainder of this law or the application thereof to any other persons or circumstances.
Section 21. Effective date.
This local law shall become effective immediately upon filing in the office of the secretary of state pursuant to section 27 of the municipal home rule law.
I , Richard Menocker, Clerk to the Legislature of Rockland County do hereby certify the foregoing to be true copy of the aforesaid local law passed by the Legislature of Rockland County on November 18, 1999 and approved by the County Executive and deemed duly adopted on December 17, 1999.
Dated: New City, New York
January 31, 2000
CLERK TO THE LEGISLATURE
ALLISON-PARRIS COUNTY OFFICE BLDG.
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