Selling a home in areas served by the Ross Valley Sanitary District got a little more complicated as of January 1st. Thanks to the new Ordinance 66, when you list a property in Fairfax, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Larkspur, Ross, or San Anselmo you now will have to have a pressure test performed on the sewer lateral if the home is more than 20 years old or the lateral hasn’t been replaced in the last 20 years. Then if the line doesn’t pass the test it will have to be replaced, and as they are saying that pretty much any older sewer lateral will fail that test, basically it’s going to mean that everyone selling a home with an older line in the RVSD will need to replace it or negotiate with the buyer to take on that responsibility. This testing requirement is also triggered by any remodeling project that costs $75,000 or more or involves adding a bathroom.
This is a big deal. Replacing a sewer lateral is often a $6,000 to $10,000 job, but can be more than that if it’s a long run or a complicated situation. And to make matters worse for some sellers, the ordinance also says that shared laterals are no longer acceptable, so if your property shares a line with a neighbor you will need to create a whole new lateral, which could get really messy if that means you need permission to dig up your neighbor’s yard and there is no easement in place.
Sellers should keep in mind that RVSD has a lateral replacement grant program under which they will pay for half the cost of replacement up to $4,000, as long as money is available in the fund for the fiscal year. Since this new ordinance will mean a lot more people will be taking advantage of that program, it might be wise to get a jump on applying if you’re going to be selling a home with an older lateral and you’re considering just doing the work up front.
While we applaud efforts to fix faulty sewer lines and think it’s an important health and environmental issue, we’re not fans of placing the burden on homeowners at the time they go to sell their property. There should be a better way to handle this than making it a point of sale requirement.
As of this writing there is no info on Ordinance 66 on the RVSD website, which is a little surprising, but here is a link to the FAQ they have made available. We have a feeling you’ll be hearing a lot more about this issue in the coming months. Feel free to get in touch with us if you need advice about the best way to approach dealing with the issue when selling your home.