Spilling the beans

In the October Newsletter we published an item on the perceived relationship between OAHI and CAHPI.  (You can read it here)

Marketing claims.

As expected, we received a number of communications from members at OAHI and CAHPI stating that this was just a marketing stunt made to market OntarioACHI to inspectors and the information could not be trusted.

Apart from these “private” messages, no further information has been forthcoming from either Association to deny the statements we made.

It is true that when we issue information to the public we are marketing OntarioACHI, and its members.  This is no different from any other Professional Association.   The survival of your professional Association depends upon the support of its members. This is no different for us as it is any other Professional Association.  The support must be bi-directional, and the Association must, by the same premise, support its members.

We do this by providing timely, accurate and factual information about items and events that will affect Inspectors in their day-to-day business.   We provide support both collectively and individually to members who need it.  We continue to promote the strong standards and ethics our Designated members must adhere to, to the public, the government and its agencies and to the membership itself.  some members don’t like what we have to say all the time, but we have been proven generally right in our thinking over time.

Real, valid concerns for inspectors in Ontario

We have real concerns for Inspectors in Ontario who have the R.H.I. designation.  There are two main concerns: 

The first is the fact that the R.H.I. is, in law, available to ANY Ontario inspector who is a registered member of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors (OAHI).  Various communiques have been issued by the various levels of OAHI to try to disguise this fact, here’s how we see it, with the reasoning to back-up our thought process.

  1. The RHI, in-law, is awarded to any member of the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors under the Ontario Association of home Inspectors Act, 1994.   
  2. Here it clearly states, (Section 6) that the OAHI board, “establish and prescribe such categories of membership as are necessary for the purposes of the Association and in the public interest“, as well as “prescribe the qualifications for membership in and registration by the Association”.   
  3. The OAHI has, and to date has several categories of “membership” including Applicant, Candidate, Associate, RHI.  All of these categories of membership are considered “registered”. 
  4. With respect to the “Register” the act goes on (in Section 8) to state “The registrar of the Association shall Register keep a register which shall show the names of all members of the Association in good standing, their status and their category of membership.” in addition (in section 12) the Act states “Every member of the Association Designation whose name appears in the register may use the designations ‘Registered Home Inspector’ and ‘R.H.I.’  

While OAHI might try to pass bylaws and change other operational documents, the law is overarching.  No bylaws of the Association can supercede what is in the Act with respect to Provincial Offences.  As of the date of this publication, ANY Inspectors operating in Ontario, that holds themselves out to be a Registered Home Inspector or have the designation R.H.I. and is not either an Applicant Member, Candidate Member, Associate Member or R.H.I. member of OAHI is guilty of a provincial offence.  Conversely, OAHI cannot stop anyone who is a member of any of these categories from holding themselves out to be a “Registered Home Inspector” or “R.H.I” as long as that inspector complies with the terms of the membership category.  Implementing a term that such a category is not allowed to use those terms is in itself contrary to the Law.

We believe this mess penalises the many great Inspectors who have obtained their R.H.I. credentials the correct way, by having them have to justify why they are better at an inspection with the R.H.I. than a student, applicant or candidate member of the Association.  We think this may also cause a problem for the government regulators when it comes to sifting “the wheat from the chaff” so to speak.

The second concern is that the term “Registered Home Inspector”, is a restricted term in Ontario, and therefore across Canada and aligned solely for the use and distribution of OAHI under the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994.   

The Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors have laid claims that they own the trademark/word mark in the rest of Canada, and indeed are selling individual memberships to Inspectors based upon that premise. 

Indeed on their web page, they even have the term “Registered Home Inspector (RHI)®

We believe that neither CAHPI nor OAHI are allowed to use the ® (registered) symbol with the term “Registered Home Inspector”, and using it thus misinforms inspectors as to the validity of ownership.  Here’s why.

Canada’s Trade-marks Act does not contain any marking requirements. However, you may have come across the following symbols used by trademark owners, namely, ® (registered), TM (trademark), MD (marque déposée) or MC (marque de commerce). The ® or MD are generally used to identify a registered mark. The symbols TM or MC are generally used to identify an unregistered mark.

Investigating the Intellectual Property Database of the Canadian Intellectual Property Office (link here) we find that the trademark “Registered Home Inspector” was attempted to be registered by the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors back in 2002, but was refused because of the fact that it was a restricted term.   

Two applications were made on the same day, on 18th August 2017.  One by the Ontario Association of home Inspectors, who applied for the trademark “Registered Home Inspector-OAHI“, and one by the Canadian Association of Home and Property Inspectors, who applied for the trademark “Registered Home Inspector“. 

While both these applications have been marked “Formalized” they have not been granted.  Indeed we believe they will both be rejected because currently the term “Registered Home Inspector” is still a restricted term, as the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994 has not yet been repealed.   

Once the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors Act, 1994 is repealed we fully expect both CAHPI and the new iteration of OAHI to re-apply for the Trademark, and if the applications are submitted as of now, it is likely that the second one in will be rejected as being too similar to the first one.   

If a tertiary party manages to apply for the term, and gets in before both parties, the “Registered Home Inspector” term could end up being a litigious nightmare.  (We can imagine at least one U.S. organisation trying this one out.)

Either way, we believe the “Registered Home Inspector” term is currently a complete marketing mess for both organisations, and their members, at present.  We believe that inspectors of both camps would be best served if CAHPI would focus its efforts on the NCH and OAHI on the RHI.  We feel this would be in the best interests of the general public too, but hey-ho, they’ve not listened to our suggestions very readily in the past.

The apparent, and very public infighting between the two chairs of the respective Associations does not quell our fears for inspectors caught up in it.

So we ask, marketing or valid argument.  We respect your opinions, but hold our line. 

We are here for all inspectors in Ontario and are going to continue to work to ensure the Home Inspection Professionals in Ontario are a credit to the consumers that employ trhem.

Frankly we don’t care what’s going on in other provinces until it affects us here.  We in OntarioACHI are more than happy to lead the way, and have others follow.   

A closer look: Qualifying Ontario's Home InspectorsWe were the first, and are still the ONLY association that has a designation that meets all the requirements laid out in the 2013 recommendations paper for the regulation of the Home Inspection Profession with both basic training on ongoing training requirements for Educational (technical) and Professional (soft) skills; regular Police Background Checks; Mandatory Errors & Omissions Insurance and proof of examinations.

We continue to reach out and work with other Associations on improving the standards and public recognition for Home Inspectors in Ontario. 

We continue to work in conjunction with, and not opposed to, the various government agencies that have an impact on our profession and consumer protection.

We have a public facing complaints service that is accessible and not hidden and have, over the last 3 years, fielded complaints against inspectors that have not even been our members, passing the complaint and complainant onto the relative authority for the inspector.

We have an inspector find service that not only identifies members who are required to adhere to our standards, but also included their educational and professional achievements and allows consumers to both identify the inspectors and ascertain their current professional standing, including any impending recorded expiry dates.

These are some of the the many ways we help the members of the public distinguish Professional Full-Time members from inspectors who are still gaining skills and experience.

If this sounds like marketing, then we are doing our job right. 

It’s time the public and profession got some valuable, accurate information about what’s going on in the Profession.