Texas Register Preamble

The Texas Real Estate Commission (TREC) proposes amendments to §§535.206, 535.208, 535.213-535.214, 535.216, 535.218, 535.221, 535.223, 535.224, 535.226 and new §535.212 and §535.217, concerning licensed inspectors. The amendments and new sections are proposed in connection with TREC's on-going review of its rules and are intended to bring the sections into conformity with recent changes to other TREC rules governing the procedures for obtaining and renewing licenses as well as making other substantive changes to the sections. The amendments also would adopt by reference revised application forms and an experience log used by applicants.

The amendment to §535.206 would modify the section to be similar in voice and style with other TREC rules. Archaic language referring to a former registration program would also be eliminated. The amendment to §535.208 would require applicants for the professional inspector license or the real estate inspector license to obtain an education evaluation prior to filing an application. This change would be necessary to permit on-line filing of applications, which would be permitted under the amended section. If the applicant files electronically, the applicant would be required to complete the process by submitting a printed copy of the application containing a signature and photograph within 60 days after paying the filing fee on-line. The amendment also adopts by reference a revised Inspection Log, a form used by applicants and licensees to show satisfaction of experience requirements, and three revised license application forms. The forms would be changed to obtain a permanent mailing address from the applicant and, at the discretion of the applicant, daytime telephone numbers or e-mail addresses to facilitate curative work by TREC staff.

New §535.212 would adopt revised guidelines for the acceptance of courses submitted by applicants and permit the acceptance of courses offered by a professional trade association, consistent with changes to other TREC rules. Experience requirements for a license are also addressed in the new section. Those applicants who are applying directly for an inspector license or a professional license on the basis of additional coursework would be required to show proportional credit in each of the structural, mechanical and electrical systems. Experience for work in another licensed occupation would be restricted to persons licensed as architects, professional engineers, or engineers-in-training. Applicants who substitute personal work experience would be required to show five years of experience for a real estate inspector license and seven years of experience for a professional inspector license; the experience claimed also would have to be derived from work on each of the three systems found in improvements to real property. These changes would help to ensure that persons licensed without first being sponsored by a professional inspector and performing inspections under supervision are competent to practice as inspectors.

The amendment to §535.213 would clarify that the accreditation and regulation of inspection schools and approval of courses and instructors will be conducted under the same guidelines governing real estate schools and instructors. The amendment also would clarify that a school accredited to offer real estate courses is not required to obtain a separate accreditation to offer inspection courses, provided any inspection courses have been approved by TREC before they are offered. The amendment to §535.214 would delete archaic language referring to the scheduling of an examination.

The amendment to §535.216 would require licensed inspectors on inactive status to provide TREC with a permanent mailing address and report changes to that address within 10 days after the change. The amendment also would permit licenses to be renewed on-line as TREC develops the capacity to handle the inspection renewals in that fashion. If TREC requests information from a licensee in connection with a renewal application, the amendment would require the licensee to furnish the information within 30 days after the request, or be subject to disciplinary action.

New §535.217 addresses conduct by an inspector which may warrant disciplinary action as being dishonest. The new section would require an inspector to disclose and obtain the consent to all parties to a transaction before accepting a fee or other valuable consideration from a person other than the inspector's client. This requirement would ensure that the licensee's intention of accepting a fee or other valuable consideration from a service provider or from a party other than the inspector's client is disclosed to the parties to the transaction and that they have no objection to the acceptance of the fee or consideration. Similarly, the new section would require a licensed inspector to obtain the consent of the inspector's client before paying a portion of the inspector's fee to a service provider or other participant in the real estate transaction for which the inspection has been performed.

The amendment to §535.218 would clarify that, consistent with TREC rules governing real estate courses, completion of a final examination would be required for a course offered by alternative delivery methods, such as by computer. The amendment to §535.221 clarifies that Internet advertising and e-mail are included in the definition of the term "advertisements" and that the name or assumed name of a licensee's sponsoring inspector must be included in the licensee's advertisements. The amendment to §535.223 would update references to the standards of practice governing inspectors. The amendment to §535.224 would delete archaic language referring to registrations and update rule and statutory citations found in the section. The amendment to §535.226 would require inspector licensees to notify each other in writing if either terminates a sponsorship or leaves the sponsorship of a professional inspector. This change would help to ensure that inspectors are aware of any change in license status or responsibility resulting from a change in sponsorship. The amendment also would revise references to the standards of practice for inspectors.

Mark A. Moseley, general counsel, has determined that for the first five-year period the sections are in effect there will be no fiscal implications for the state or for units of local government as a result of enforcing or administering the sections. There is no anticipated impact on small businesses, micro businesses or local or state employment as a result of implementing the sections.

Mr. Moseley also has determined that for each year of the first five years the sections as proposed are in effect the public benefit anticipated as a result of enforcing the sections will be consistent and updated sections as well as increased protection for the public when dealing with licensed inspectors. There is no anticipated economic cost to persons who are required to comply with the proposed sections.

Comments on the proposal may be submitted to Mark A. Moseley, General Counsel, Texas Real Estate Commission, P.O. Box 12188, Austin, Texas 78711-2188.

The amendments and new sections are proposed under Texas Civil Statutes, Article 6573a, §5(h), which authorize the Texas Real Estate Commission to make and enforce all rules and regulations necessary for the performance of its duties. The statute which is affected by this proposal is Texas Civil Statutes, Article 6573a.

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