What is the sewer lateral inspection ordinance in Santa Cruz?

Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker - Santa Cruz BRE 01455690



This year in 2019 we have a new ordinance in both the city and county of Santa Cruz that mandates that the sewer lateral of a home be inspected and repaired at point of sale.  In this post I will go over what a sewer lateral is and how the ordinances in the City of Santa Cruz and county of Santa Cruz differ.


What is a sewer lateral?

A sewer lateral is the pipe that connects your home's sewer to the public sewer main.  The way a sewer lateral pipe is inspected is to put a video camera down the pipe so you can see the whole line.  What the inspector is looking for is root intrusion, cracks, off sets in the pipe.  With the many older homes that we have in Santa Cruz, the chances that your sewer line may need some repair or even full replacement and unfortunately pretty high.


What does the sewer lateral ordinance in Santa Cruz mean?

The sewer lateral ordinance mandates that your sewer line is inspected at point of sale and repaired or replaced if necessary.


What is the difference between the city of Santa Cruz and county of Santa Cruz sewer lateral ordinance?

If you live in the county of Santa Cruz, any repair is supposed to be completed before your home sells.

In the city of Santa Cruz, you are allowed to transfer responsibility to the buyer if repairs are necessary and the buyer has 90 days to complete the repairs.

At point of this writing the city of Santa Cruz only mandates that you repair the sewer line from where you property line it to the main sewer line in the street, even if the sewer line on your actual property is shot.


What are the pitfalls for homeowners with the new sewer lateral ordinance?


I can see this new sewer lateral ordinance in Santa Cruz becoming a big potential problem for some homeowners.  Let's say you are selling your home and you find out that the entire sewer line needs to be replaced and it is going to cost $20,000.  If you live in the county of Santa Cruz, you are supposed to fix this before you close escrow and the sale of your home.  But what if you don't have $20,000 laying around to pay for this repair before you close on your home?  You would need to either borrow money from friends or family or find a plumber that is willing to be paid after you sell your home.  This could really slow down the sale of your home while you scramble to find the money to fix the sewer lateral


What I like about the city of Santa Cruz sewer lateral ordinance is that you can transfer responsibility to the buyer.  That way if you don't have the money to fix it before close of escrow, you can still close and then the buyer will take care of it.

2019 is the first year we have this sewer lateral ordinance in Santa Cruz and we are still seeing how it will play out and perhaps it will be modified in the future.

If you have any questions or need a referral for a sewer lateral inspector or plumber contact me at 831.419.9345

Watch my video here to learn all about the sewer lateral ordinance in Santa Cruz:



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