About twice a year, I end up explaining to a peeved Realtor that I can't send them copies of inspection reports because the information is confidential and it violates state regulations to release it without the customer's permission.
The last time I pointed this out, the Realtor sent me an email that I took as disagreeing with this. To quote, "Paul that is stupid..." I had sent a copy of the report to a partnering agent who apparently did not realize that it landed in his junk folder and she didn't see why I couldn't send it to her since they share an office.
The answer was that I am not permitted to. Here's the relevant Washington Standard:
308-408C-020WAC 308-408C-020 Ethics. Statement of purpose
In order to ensure the integrity and high standard of skill and practice in the home inspection profession, the following rules of conduct and ethics shall be binding upon the inspector. The home inspector must:
(10) Not disclose information contained in the inspection report without client approval or as required by law.
Seems clear enough. In this particular case, I did the inspection for a person buying the home on a For Sale by Owner basis but was seeking advice from a licensed Realtor. All good, except that at the inspection, he didn't provide me with that information so that I could pre-clear the sending of the report.
By pre-clear, I mean that I have a spot in the Inspection Agreement where the customer can affirmatively check a box that gives me permission to disclose his or her inspection information to his or her agent. It still wouldn't have gotten the report into the hands of the second agent, though.
There is an exception:
However, at their discretion inspectors may disclose when practical observed safety or health hazards to occupants or others that are exposed to such hazards.
If the gas odor clubs me at the door of the house (and it happens more than you think), I can notify the occupants or others that the condition exists. That doesn't mean that I'm calling Avista to have them fix it. That's miles beyond the scope of my authority. But I can act in the interest of public safety and disclose information.
So, the bottom line for the customer. Your home inspection report is confidential information and you don't have to share it. Certainly, your inspector should never share it without your say-so.