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I haven't drilled into this issue as far as I would like to yet, but I have a general problem with a program design that allows the inspected to choose their own inspectors.

The state law defines "Qualified inspector" include a long list of potential inspectors: "... a United States department of housing and urban development certified inspector; a Washington state licensed home inspector; an American society of home inspectors certified inspector; a private inspector certified by the national association of housing and redevelopment officials, the American association of code enforcement, or other comparable professional association as approved by the local municipality; a municipal code enforcement officer; a Washington licensed structural engineer; or a Washington licensed architect."

My experience with the regulated getting to choose their own inspector is that the tendency for maximizing self-interest becomes manifest in short order. The old saying is that the golden rule is "the ones who have the gold, gets to make the rules". Having the financial relationship between the landlord and the inspector is a problem waiting to happen. It won't take long for the real estate community to find the most compliant inspectors.

This results in the city having to regulate the quality of the certified inspectors, such as through random independent audits of the inspectors’ work, something the city is unlikely willing to do.

Some other cities simply hire staff to conduct the inspections who get paid by the city as employees -- employees with a clear mission and without conflict of interest.

From: Olympia City Council discusses the proposed rental registry program; Mayor Selby has reservations

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