What you need to know:

In short, when you commission a work for hire, you need to be mindful of who keeps the copyrights for it. The copyrights can include who the report can be shared with and for what purpose. Rights to dissemination can be strictly limited or they can be broad, i.e. for general publication. These rights are agreed upon by the parties when commissioning a work for hire.

Why does this matter?

Sharing inspection reports is something that does happen in the real estate world. However, who owns the copyright is important to note so that you don’t expose yourself to liability when sharing.

For example, a seller can hire a home inspector to produce a home inspection report and in the contract between them agree that the report is to be shared with the public/prospective buyers.

Another example is a buyer has a home inspection contingency, they hire the inspector, they then share the report and terminate the purchase contract. Now you as the listing agent have possession of a copy of the home inspection report and would like to, let’s say, put it in the MLS or email it to selling agents who have a client interested in the property. Can you?

You would have to figure out from the buyer who holds the copyright to it, in other words who can share it and to whom. It may be that the buyer holds all the rights and they have no issue with you sharing it (please get it in writing). If that is the case, then you may. It’s also possible that they hold all the rights but would like to make some of the cost back and they will sell it to you. This is also allowable.

Another potential case is that the home inspector retained the rights to share and disseminate. In this case, you will need to reach out to them for an agreement.

The takeaway:

Please ensure that you have a legal right to share something before you share it and that it is in writing.