Is an inspection required when a home is gifted to you by a relative? This reader wants to know if she should get an inspection on the home that was gifted to her by a relative. Here’s what I suggest.

Q: If a home is gifted to an adult child, does it need to be inspected upon the transfer of the deed?

A: We’re going to start by taking apart your question and making a few assumptions.

First, there are various types of inspections you might be referring to. If you mean a home buyer inspection, the child is not required by law to have the home inspected. (In fact, no buyer is required to have a home inspected legally before purchase. It’s just that it’s a good idea.)

While she doesn’t have to get it inspected, she might want to have a professional home inspector walk her through the property if she is planning on living in it and wants to know what she’s getting herself into. Even a family member receiving a home can benefit from a home inspection. If she has already been living in the home and knows how the mechanicals work, she might not need the home inspection. Just make sure she should know that once she is gifted the home, it’s hers to keep, maintain and keep up.

We also suspect you might be asking whether a home might need a municipal inspection upon a transfer between family members. Some municipalities require the local code inspector to stop by the home and inspect the property prior to allowing a deed to be recorded that transfers title to a home. In some instances, you need to pay a nominal fee for the inspection but in others, the local municipality has a hefty fee for the code inspection.

The fee isn’t really the issue. The issue is when the local municipal inspector comes to the home to inspect, the inspector may cite the home for code violations or for repairs that must be done to the home prior to the conveyance of the deed from one owner to another. If you don’t have the inspection certificate, the local recorder of deeds or office that handles the recording of documents will not allow you to record or file the deed unless you have the certificate.

Many municipalities will have exemptions for family transfers but some municipalities may require the inspection for all conveyances. In municipalities that require these inspections, the local government officials are trying to regulate illegal changes to homes, illegal improvements to homes, illegal conversions of single family homes to multi-family homes, illegal in-law apartments, illegal basement apartments and illegal attic or garage apartments. These municipalities may not care whether the home is going to a relative at no cost, they still want to make sure that a single family home is a single family home when the property changes hand.

In other instances, the local authorities want to check homes when they are sold to make sure the homes are up to code. They may look to see that fire hazards are taken care of, that smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are installed, that windows and doors function properly, that electrical and plumbing changes to the home were done to code. These are some of the things the municipal inspector may be looking at.

If the home fails the inspection, the homeowner will have to make repairs or corrections to the home and have the inspector verify that the corrections have taken place before the compliance certificate is given to the buyer and the new buyer can record the deed.

Given all of this, if you’re looking for a home inspector to look over the house, you can do that and if you need a municipal inspection as required by your local ordinance, you now have enough basic information and can call your city, village or town to find out if they require a home inspection and what else they require before approving your transfer.

(C) Ilyce Glink and Sam Tamkin. All rights reserved.

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