A home inspector recently emailed me with a question about doing pre-inspections for relocation companies. I referred him to a prior post that I wrote on the subject which answered his question. But it reminded me of several cases that I have had involving inspection companies that subcontract out inspections on behalf of relocation companies.

Based on the experience of those cases, if I were a home inspector, I would steer well clear of doing inspections for one of those outfits. For several reasons.

First, in order to get the business from relocation companies, they drop their pants on pricing precipitously. So the inspector who actually does the inspection is very likely losing money on the proposition.

Second, their loyalty is to the relocation company, not the inspector. So the minute that there is an “issue”, they are all too willing, ready and able to adopt a customer-is-always-right attitude despite the mountain of empirical evidence that I have assembled that, when it comes to dissatisfied home inspection clients, the customer is invariably wrong.

In one case that is typical of the genre, the client for whom the inspection had been performed was complaining about alleged damage to the property “discovered” months after the original inspection by a subsequent inspection after “destructive probing of exterior stucco.” You can’t make this sh*t up.

So the geniuses who run this inspection company, which gets thousands of inspections – maybe, tens of thousands – from this relocation company, sided with the client and paid the claim, notwithstanding that the original inspector’s report clearly pointed out not only that the portion of the property that was implicated in the claim had not been inspected due to weather and safety concerns but also recommended “Further evaluation . . . to identify potential issues.”

Now I can understand that these guys wanted to mollify a big client that gives them tens of thousands of dollars in business but then they wanted the inspector to reimburse them for their generosity. It’s like going to dinner with an ostentatious check-grabber who then hits you up for gas money to get home.

So when I got involved in the matter, I had to advise these folks that they were volunteers and that, in law, volunteers get squat!

Under the well-established Voluntary Payment Doctrine, of course, which states that there can be no recovery for a voluntary payment of the obligation of another without request and with no promise of repayment by the party whose debt is paid.

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