2019 - 2020 LEGISLATURE
March 9, 2020 - Printed by direction of Senate Chief Clerk.
1An Act to repeal
440.978 (4); to amend
440.97 (2m), 440.973 (3), 440.974 (2) and 2
440.975 (3) (cm); and to create
440.972 (1) (bg), 440.972 (1m), 440.974 (1) (ag), 3
440.975 (3) (bm) and 440.975 (3) (cr) of the statutes; relating to: regulation of
4home inspectors, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures,
5providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and granting
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
The text of Engrossed 2019 Assembly Bill 655, as passed by the assembly on
February 20, 2020, consists of the following documents adopted in the assembly on
February 20, 2020: Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 as affected by Assembly
Amendments 1, 2, and 3. The text also includes the March 9, 2020, chief clerk's
correction to Assembly Amendment 2.
Content of Engrossed 2019 Assembly Bill 655:
Under current law, subject to certain exceptions, no individual may act as a
home inspector, use the title “home inspector," use any title or description that
implies that he or she is a home inspector, or represent himself or herself to be a home
inspector unless the individual is registered with the Department of Safety and
Professional Services. Similarly, no business entity may provide home inspection
services, and no business entity may use the title “home inspectors" to describe the
business entity's services, unless each of the home inspectors employed by the
business entity is so registered. In order to become a registered home inspector, an
individual must not have a disqualifying criminal record and must pass an
examination approved by DSPS. The practice of home inspectors is governed by
statutes and by rules promulgated by DSPS. This bill does the following with respect
to the law governing home inspectors:
1. Requires, in order to be granted a home inspector registration, that an
individual complete 40 hours of instruction.
2. Exempts newly registered home inspectors from continuing education
requirements for the first two renewals of a registration. Current DSPS rules
exempt newly registered home inspectors from continuing education requirements
for the first renewal of a registration.
3. Provides for reciprocal registration of home inspectors licensed in other
states who have comparable or more stringent requirements.
4. Modifies the definition of what is considered to be a “defect,” for purposes of
a report submitted by a home inspector to a client. The bill also makes modifications
to what the report is required to contain, including by adding a number of required
elements and statements for the report, such as a summary page with required
statements, and requiring defects to be labeled as defects if they satisfy the legal
definition of defect.
5. Repeals a provision allowing DSPS to use an alternative professional
discipline procedure for home inspectors.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
“Defect” means a condition of any component of an improvement 3
that a home inspector determines, on the basis of the home inspector's judgment on
4the day of an inspection,
would significantly impair the health or safety of future 5
occupants of a property or that, if not repaired, removed, or replaced, would 6
significantly shorten or adversely affect the expected normal life of the component 7
of the improvement.
(bg) Submits evidence satisfactory to the department that he or she 2
has completed at least 40 hours of instruction approved by the department under s. 3
440.974 (1) (ag).
The department shall register an individual under this 6
subchapter if the individual is registered or licensed in good standing as a home 7
inspector in another state, the individual complies with sub. (1) (a), (b), (c), and (d), 8
and the other state has requirements that the department determines meet or exceed 9
those required under sub. (1).
An individual is not eligible for examination unless the individual 12
has satisfied the requirements for registration under s. 440.972 (1) (a) to (c) and (b) 13
at least 30 days before the date of the examination.
(ag) Standards for instruction for purposes of the requirement 16
under s. 440.972 (1) (bg).
The department shall promulgate rules establishing continuing 19
education requirements for individuals registered under this subchapter. The rules 20
promulgated under this subsection shall require the completion of at least 40 hours 21
of continuing education every 2 years, except that the rules may not require
22continuing education for an applicant for renewal of a registration that expires on
23the 1st and 2nd renewal dates after the date on which the department initially
24granted the registration
(bm) States the property address, the name of the home inspector 2
who conducted the home inspection, the date of the home inspection, the names of 3
the individuals who prepared the report, the date the report was prepared, and, if 4
applicable, the date the report was revised.
(cm) Describes any defect that is detected by the home inspector 7
during his or her home inspection. A home inspector is not required to shall
use the 8
term “defect” in describing a defect
in the written report required under 9
this subsection. A home inspector may not use the term “defect” in a written report
10required under this subsection unless that use is consistent with s. 440.97 (2m) if the
11home inspector believes the condition satisfies the definition of “defect” under s.
(cr) 1. Includes a summary page that includes at least all of the 15
a. A list of conditions, labeled as defects, that are observed under par. (cm) to 17
be defects, as defined in s. 440.97 (2m).
b. A listing of components needing repairs, components needing further 19
evaluation, items to monitor, and maintenance items.
2. The summary page shall include references to the page, heading, or item 21
number in the detailed account for further information.
3. The summary page shall include all of the following statements:
NOTE: This summary page is provided for convenience and is not a substitute 24
for reading the entire report and should not be relied upon as the complete list for 25
the client's reference.
For the purposes of the report, “defect,” as defined in section 440.97 (2m), Wis. 2
Stats., means a condition of any component of an improvement that a home inspector 3
determines, on the basis of the home inspector's judgment on the day of an 4
inspection, would significantly impair the health or safety of occupants of a property 5
or that, if not repaired, removed, or replaced, would significantly shorten or 6
adversely affect the expected normal life of the component of the improvement. The 7
contract of sale may define “defect” to also include a condition that would have a 8
significant adverse effect on the value of the property, but such a condition may not 9
be labeled a defect in the report unless it meets the definition in section 440.97 (2m), 10
NOTE: A home inspector may not report on the market value or marketability 12
of a property or whether a property should or should not be purchased.
In requiring a home inspector, under s. 440.975 (3) (cm), to describe a defect, 16
as defined in s. 440.97 (2m), by using the term “defect” in a home inspection 17
consistent with the definition under s. 440.97 (2m), the legislature does not intend 18
to modify the liability of a home inspector in any action relating to a home inspection 19
conducted by the home inspector.
The rules promulgated under s. 440.974 (2), as affected by this act, shall 21
first apply to an individual who is required to satisfy s. 440.972 (1) (bg) as provided 22
10 (1) of this act.
The department of safety and professional services may promulgate 24
emergency rules under s. 227.24 necessary to implement this act. Notwithstanding 25
s. 227.24 (1) (c) and (2), emergency rules promulgated under this subsection remain
in effect until May 1, 2022, or the date on which permanent rules take effect, 2
whichever is sooner. Notwithstanding s. 227.24 (1) (a) and (3), the department is not 3
required to provide evidence that promulgating a rule under this subsection as an 4
emergency rule is necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, safety, 5
or welfare and is not required to provide a finding of emergency for a rule 6
promulgated under this subsection.
(1) The treatment of s. 440.972 (1) (bg) first applies to decisions by the 9
department of safety and professional services to grant or deny a registration under 10
s. 440.972 made on the date on which the rules promulgated under s. 440.974 (1) (ag) 11