I was recently debriefed by a team of lawyers about the State of the Industry whom are working on future litigation against most of the Shot Callers and Industry Training Mills issuing Certificates for a plethora of reasons. Whom they are or where they are located is immaterial. What is material is that these lawyers are not ambulance chasers. These boys are at the top of their game and the stakes are high, very high!
Anyway, the Interview got me to thinking about the truly sad state of affairs we are in; the reality that many within the Industry have come to accept criminal activity as the normal landscape. Now, before the pinheads out there lick their chops about getting the defamation suits ready; make no mistake we have already taken on several threats and won, you had best read on. The reality is that each and every day that a Work Order which is not a grass cut is generated, there is a 100 percent chance that it is instructing a Contractor to commit a crime.
If you are an Inspector and you are not State Certified, you just jumped to the head of the line if you are evaluating anything other than the fact that the house is vacant or otherwise. If you are doing occupancy, make no mistake whatsoever there are droves of suits already in the pipeline to address these issues.
You read that right, ONE HUNDRED PERCENT of all Work Orders issued, which are not grass cuts, in the Industry instruct Contractors to break the law if they are not State Credentialed. This number is not thrown out there lightly; the level of criminality is only distinguishable by whether or not it is civil or criminal in nature.
Let me walk you down a little road to help you better understand the context I am speaking in. First, to understand the Work Order, one needs a slight primer on law. Anytime that a Client issues a Work Order to the Contractor it is a legal document; a subcontract within the Master Contract between Client and Contractor. Black’s LawDictionary, the premier legal dictionary, is specific in its definition of a Work Order:
1. Contracting. Customer order allowing contractor to proceed with no more instructions needed.
Now, regardless of whether or not you are a Contractor or, in my opinion as most Contracts read you as an employee, you are issued a legally binding document called the Work Order which instructs you to complete a given set of tasks. Regardless of what services you are there to perform, you are to perform an Inspection. Now, herein lies the differentiation between criminal and civil. If your order is an Initial, regardless of whether or not it is pre or post conveyance, you have now stepped over into the criminal arena. Why? If you transmit information across state lines which you are not credentialed to do such, you just committed wire fraud. The Client committed wire fraud by sending the Work Order, to begin with, when they knew you were not credentialed. The offset is that the Client bears the burden of the crime as they should never have hired you without verification of each and every license required for the task(s) they assigned!
Only a licensed and credentialed home inspector is allowed to perform home inspections. Period. End of the conversation.
Now, every order generated thereafter, with respect to the property condition, requires an Inspection as well. Pre conveyance is where the lines between the criminal and civil penalties blur. In theory, the financial institution may take a pass upon enforcement of the law; however, many states do not. Additionally, if and when the very same financial institutions roll that property over into the post conveyance inventory, the documents they use to submit the property are based, in part, upon the Contractor’s Inspections. So, right back to square one in that you are part and party to a crime.
Post conveyance work, the work for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), is where the biggest danger exists. When you work for a Prime Vendor or an Order Mill, you are still in a position of liability with the US Government. As opposed to submitting documents to a Client for financial institutions, the documents you render for the US Government fall under the scope of a half dozen federal laws not the least of which is the False Claims Act. It gets worse, though:
The work you do for HUD and other US Government Agencies require that you perform tasks such as winterizations, electrical back feeding, mold abatement, pest control (yes, when you put the Dollar Store bombs out you are fumigating!) and structural surveys to name but a few. Any repairs you are performing are ILLEGAL from the beginning if you are not a licensed General Contractor.
Let’s break a few of these items down to truly show just how many crimes are being committed. First, winterizations. I do not know of too many jurisdictions whom allow for plumbing services to be rendered by non plumbers. More on point, the gauges you are using: Are they certified by your state’s Weights and Measurements Agency? If not, how can you legally attest to what PSI the pipes did or did not hold? Electrical back feeding is always one I like. If you are not a licensed electrical contractor you are NOT allowed to back feed a home. I really loved when BLM REO sent their “trainer” out to show everyone how to take 10/2 wire and remove the fuse panel cover and hard wire from the generator to the fuse panel. Man, I thank G-d every day we never worked for them!
Mold abatement is deserving of its own paragraph. EVERY SINGLE Client we EVER worked for had the same policy: spray bleach and Kilz. Period. No permit is EVER obtained! Now, with that said, here’s the problem: bleach and Kilz are cosmetic; there is ABSOLUTELY NO abatement let alone remediation! First, you have to test to determine what kind of mold is present. Second, you need to remove the contaminated product. To disturb the product, though, you MUST seal the home so that the spores do not escape. If you are removing the product without doing this ANYONE in the area has a legitimate Cause of Action against you. Third, you have to “suit and boot;” OSHA will crucify the Contractors and Clients! After sealing it you have to get it Inspected! Oh, that’s right you didn’t have a permit and once again you are not a LICENSED mold remediation firm, but yet you state you have addressed the mold issue.
Here’s the scenario that is working its way to the Docket now: Johnny is a 4 year old boy. His parents just bought a post conveyance home. During pre conveyance the Clients submitted billing for addressing the mold. What they DIDN’T do was address the spores in the 2x4s and they began to grow out of control along the ductwork. Because mold was NOT listed on the Addendum; hell, it was “addressed” so why pass that info on to HUD, Johnny is now in ICU dying from black mold exposure.
Now, as you Certified that you Inspected that house, top to bottom, not only are you part and party to the CIVIL Action, you are going to be charged with Negligent Manslaughter as a direct result of deliberate indifference. You are not going to pass Go and there is no Get Out of Jail Free card simply because some two bit dime store Association gave you a Certification!
Repairs. The best one I love is Roof Repair. If you are NOT a licensed General Contractor you are breaking the law when you roof a house. I do not care if it is one shingle or 30 square when you render a repair with a guarantee you have now entered into the world of licensing.
Finally, I want to talk a bit about these Mills churning out their “Certifications.” Folks, these Certifications are not even worth the paper they are written on in a Court of Law. Short of being almost identical to a Merit Badge (not to down the Boy Scouts as I was once one) they are a stone hustle of money. I am currently awaiting replies from several State Attorney General’s offices in hopes of having the very same credentialing outfits brought up on charges. I want you to think about this for a moment. Do you REALLY think that ANY COMPANY OR ASSOCIATION is going to embed requirements in their Training which would cause them to loose money?! These outfits are no different than the very same Internet Ploys whom guarantee a High School Diploma or University Degree! They know FULL well they are not accredited and yet they ALL seem to forget to make that known on their Websites! Even the National Property Preservation Guild (NPPG) process is ONLY peer reviewed!
Don’t worry, though, the Order Mill, Client and/or Prime Vendor are all parties to the Conspiracy so you won’t be alone during booking.
Editor’s Note: I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. What I am is a US Citizen whom has read the law; I am a veteran whom knows the words duty, honor and Country.