By Nicole LaSlavic, Arizona REALTORS® VP of Government Affairs

As a REALTOR®, you know the important role a home inspector plays when your client buys or sells a home.

A home inspection is a critical step to protect your client’s investment, but when the market is healthy, finding a home inspector can sometimes be difficult and untimely.

In 2002, the Arizona REALTORS® state association successfully advocated for legislation to certify home inspectors. The legislation, as passed into law, established that the Arizona State Board of Technical Registration (BTR) certifies and regulates the practice of home inspectors.

Part of the certification process, upon initial and renewal of licensure, required an applicant to provide a full set of fingerprints, as opposed to a fingerprint clearance card, to the BTR for the purpose of obtaining a state and federal criminal records check.

Under the current practice, submitting a full set of fingerprints presented two concerns:

  • First, the set of fingerprints are checked against a database initially and not rechecked until a renewal of certification. This created a gap in time where a criminal offense could occur, yet not notify the BTR, thus allowing the inspector to continue inspecting homes.
  • Second, the processing of the full set of fingerprints takes up to 120 days.

Whereas technology has advanced since 2002 and many industries utilize a fingerprint clearance card (including those initial applicants for a real estate license), SB 1045: Home Inspectors was introduced and passed into law.

As testified in committee, a fingerprint clearance card can be processed by the Arizona Department of Public Safety within 30-60 days, a reduction of at least half the time the current process takes.

Additionally, a fingerprint clearance card is checked daily through a database, which allows the BTR to be notified of any criminal offence when it occurs.

It also came to light that the BTR currently relies on volunteers to review applicant information and documentations. Though this standard of practice is sufficient in a normal market, when the economy faces an uptick the timeline to process applicant information becomes backlogged.

The bill additionally authorized the BTR to hire outside employees to review the required documents.

Recognizing the improvements this bill offered not only with an expedited process to certification, but added protections for homeowners, Arizona REALTORS® supported this legislation.

SB 1045: Home Inspectors was signed into law by Governor Doug Ducey on March 23, 2018. The bill does not contain a specific effective date; thus, it will become law 90-days after the legislature adjourns Sine Die.

Provisions of SB 1045 are as follows:

  • Requires initial home inspector certification applicants to submit a valid fingerprint clearance card to the BTR, rather than submit a full set of fingerprints to the BTR to obtain a federal and state criminal records check
  • Authorizes the BTR to hire outside employees on a fee basis to review the required documents submitted by applicants for home inspector certification and regulation
  • Adds conforming language and asserts the BTR cannot require a fingerprint clearance card for certification renewal or any other purpose, except as previously stated for the initial certification.
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