Nov 8 2010

Selling your Property? A Building Permit Verification will be Required

At its meeting on November 1st, the Piedmont City Council adopted the first reading of an ordinance to amend Chapter 17 F.1 of the Piedmont Municipal Code regarding property disclosure statements.  In short, this ordinance will require anyone who sells an interest in real property in Piedmont to furnish a copy of a “Property Records Search” to a buyer of the property.

The search report will be prepared by the City Public Works Department for a fee (currently $50) and must be provided to the buyer at least 10 days before close of escrow.  The purpose of the report is to inform buyers of the building permit history, occupancy approvals and other requirements for the property. Buyers could be influenced by these reports, especially if improvements have been made without building permits or permitted work has not received final City approvals.  City staff provided sample housing record search items.  (See staff report.)

City Planner Kate Black  also introduced an updated version of the “Disclosure Statement” document that outlines home use and construction restrictions in Piedmont.  As an example Black described, upon inspection, property owners had claimed a room was a bedroom, but under the City’s laws the room would not qualify because it did not have a window. Recently, home buyers and sellers, along with realtors, have complained about the City’s requirements causing sales to fall through at the last minute.  The ordinance change is intended to correct any confusion about City requirements.  Related link:  When does your home project require a permit?  Read the City’s FAQs.

Responding to an inquiry by resident George Childs about owning (or purchasing) a property with a permit violation, staff indicated the penalty associated with correcting any issue is generally confined to the cost of correcting any deficiencies and meeting City permit requirements.  However, work determined to be without building or other required permits will be charged fees at double the normal City rate.  Permit requirements can include variances and design review.

Staff also clarified that combining separate lots with the Alameda County Tax Assessor does not meet the qualifications for changing lot lines in Piedmont both under the City Code or the California Subdivision Map Act.

The second reading of the new ordinance is expected at the next City Council meeting.  More materials: see staff report attachments.  Public input may be emailed to the City Council.

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