What are TREC’s Real Estate Inspector Standards of Practice and Mandatory Inspection Report Form

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) licenses and regulates various real estate-related occupations, including inspectors. Individuals must satisfy certain requirements to meet licensing standards, and TREC also monitors licensees to ensure they meet certain minimum requirements. 

As part of its duties, TREC also receives complaints against real estate inspectors and takes disciplinary action as needed concerning matters over which it has jurisdiction. For instance, failure to follow the Standards of Practice that govern real estate inspectors is grounds for disciplinary action against these individuals. Complaints, disciplinary actions, and non-renewal of your real estate inspector license can be devastating. With a license, you gain your ability to work as a real estate inspector, leaving you with the career you have planned or already built.

Enlisting the help of a real estate inspector license defense lawyer can help you fight back against license denial or disciplinary action that may affect your license. With legal assistance, you may also be able to negotiate the best possible resolution of the matter before TREC and safeguard your career. 

The Function of Real Estate Inspectors

Buyers often hire licensed real estate inspectors to provide information on the condition of a residence before they buy it, as well as report any safety concerns. Although some buyers may forego an inspection and purchase a house on an “as is” basis, many want to know about any potential problems with a residence before they spend the money to purchase it. Likewise, sellers may hire a real estate inspector to determine any problems with their homes so they can make repairs before putting their homes on the market. 

However, under Texas law, real estate inspectors must do much more than provide a superficial “walkthrough” inspection. Performing a preliminary or mere walkthrough inspection can subject a real estate inspector to disciplinary action by TREC. 

Scope of the Real Estate Inspection

Tex. Admin. Code §535.227(a) defines the scope of a real estate inspection under Texas law as “a limited visual survey and basic performance evaluation of the systems and components of a building using normal controls that provide information regarding the general condition of a residence at the time of inspection.” A real estate inspection is not intended to be a comprehensive investigation to determine the cause or effect of any deficiencies. It requires the use of reasonable and appropriate tools to satisfy the requirements of the SOPs, but it does not require specialized equipment or procedures to complete. 

However, a real estate inspector may perform a real estate inspection that is a higher level than the minimum requirements of the SOPs, so long as the inspector is competent to do so. Therefore, an inspector could use specialized equipment or perform specialized procedures if trained. 

Real Estate Inspector Standards of Practice

Real estate inspectors must follow the Standards of Practice (SOPs) outlined in 22 Tex. Admin. Code §535.227 – 525.233. The SOPs are the minimum requirements for a real estate inspection performed by a licensed real estate inspector for the buyer or seller of a one to four-family unit.

Under §525.227(a), generally, the inspector must:

  • Operate fixed or installed equipment and appliances in at least one mode with ordinary controls at typical settings;
  • Visually inspect accessible systems or components from proximity to the systems and components and the interior of the attic and crawl spaces; and
  • Complete the required standard inspection report.

The SOPs go on to list, in detail, the minimum inspection requirements for structural systems (§535.228), electrical systems (§535.229), heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (§535.230), plumbing systems (§535.231), and appliances (§535.232). In addition, minimum inspection requirements also exist under §535.233 for optional systems, which include landscape irrigation (sprinkler) systems, swimming pools, spas, hot tubs, and related equipment, outbuildings, private water wells, private sewage disposal systems, and other built-in appliances. 

Limitations on real estate inspections are outlined in §535.227(d). These limitations provide items that a real estate inspector is not required to inspect, which include items other than those listed in the SOPs, elevators, detached buildings, decks, docks, fences, waterfront structures, or related equipment, anything buried, hidden, latent, or concealed, sub-surface drainage systems, various automated or programmable control systems, and concrete flatwork. Other limitations include items that inspectors are not required to report or determine. Furthermore, inspectors are not required to anticipate future events or conditions or perform various other tasks as listed in the SOPs. 

Under §535.227(f), an inspector may depart from the SOPs in terms of not inspecting a required component or system only if:

  • The inspector and client agree that the item should not be inspected;
  • The inspector is not qualified to inspect the item;
  • In the reasonable judgment of the inspector, the inspector determines that:
    • Existing conditions prevent inspection of an item;
    • Conditions or materials are hazardous to the health or safety of the inspector; or
    • The actions of the inspector may cause damage to the property; or
  • The item is a common element of multi-family development and is not in contact with the unit being inspected.

Additionally, any departure from the SOPs in performing a real estate inspection must be specifically communicated to the client at the earliest opportunity and noted on the inspection report form.

Get Legal Representation Today to Help Safeguard Your Real Estate Inspector License

Receiving notice of a complaint or disciplinary proceedings against your real estate inspector license can be unexpected and disappointing. However, having a real estate inspector license defense attorney on your team can be essential to a positive outcome in your case. You can reach the offices of Bertolino LLP, by calling (512) 515-9518 today or filling out our contact form online. 

Call or text (512) 476-5757 or complete a Case Evaluation form