Disclosure and Point-of-Sale Compliance - Wildfire Defensible Space and Vegetation Management Laws, and Home Hardening

Disclosure: Disclosure and point-of-sale compliance re wildfire defensible space and vegetation
management laws, and home hardening.

This is a not a 2021 new law. It was passed last year. However, we are including it here because its most signicant provisions become effective January 1, 2021.

Requires delivery of a statutory disclosure re home hardening for homes in designated high fire areas built before 2010, and that seller list specied retrofits.

wild fire areasRequires seller of property located in designated high fire areas to provide buyer with documentation stating that the property is in compliance with local law pertaining to defensible spaces or local vegetation management laws. If there is no such local law, the seller shall provide documentation of compliance with state law, assuming the seller obtained such documentation within six months prior to entering into the transaction. But if neither of the above,the seller and the buyer must enter into a written agreement in which the buyer agrees to obtain documentation of compliance with defensible
space or a local vegetation management ordinance after close.

These disclosure requirements will apply to any property in which the Transfer Disclosure Statement is required to be delivered. TDS exemptions and cancellation rights apply.

Disclosures re Home Hardening Beginning January 1, 2020, if a seller, after completion of construction, has obtained a nal inspection report regarding compliance with, among other things,
home hardening laws (Gov’t Code 51182 and 51189*), the seller shall provide to the buyer a copy of that report or information on where a copy of the report may be obtained.

Beginning January 1, 2021, this law requires for properties located in high or very high re hazard
severity zones for homes built before 2010, delivery of a notice to include the following three items:

1) A statutory disclosure that includes information on how to re harden homes as follows:

“This home is located in a high or very high re hazard severity zone and this home was built
before the implementation of the Wildre Urban Interface building codes which help to fire harden a home. To better protect your home from wildre, you might need to consider improvements. Information on fire hardening, including current building standards and information on minimum annual vegetation management standards to protect homes from wildfires, can be obtained on the internet website http://www.readyforwildfire.org.”

2) Disclosure of a list of features that may make the home vulnerable to wildfire and flying embers if the seller is aware. The list includes, among other things, untreated wood shingles, combustible landscaping within five feet of the home, and single pane glass windows.

3) On or after July 1, 2025, a list of low-cost retrots re home hardening (listed pursuant to Section 51189 of the Government Code*). The notice shall disclose which listed retrofits, if any, that have been completed during the time that the seller has owned the property.

Potential point of sale compliance requirements re defensible space or local vegetation
management laws

Beginning July 1, 2021 seller of property in high or very high re hazard zones shall provide documentation to the buyer stating that the property is in compliance with laws pertaining to state law defensible spaces (Public Resources Code 4291**) or local vegetation management ordinances, or in certain cases the buyer and seller will agree that the buyer is to obtain the documentation after close as follows

1.If there is a local ordinance requiring the seller to comply with state law governing defensible spaces (PRC 4291**) or a local vegetation management ordinance, the seller shall provide the buyer with:  1) a copy of the documentation of such compliance, and information on the local agency from which a copy of that documentation may be obtained. 2.But If no such local ordinance exists, and the seller has obtained an inspection from a state, local or other government agency or qualied nonprot which provides an inspection with documentation for the property, the seller shall provide the buyer with:  1) the documentation of the inspection if obtained within six months prior to entering into a transaction to sell the real property and 2) information on the local agency from which a copy of that documentation may be obtained.  3.If seller hasn’t obtained documentation of compliance per 1 or 2 above, then the seller and buyer shall enter into a written agreement stating that the buyer agrees to: 1) obtain documentation of compliance per the local ordinance or 2) if there is no such local ordinance, the buyer shall, within one year, obtain documentation of compliance as long as there is a state, local or other government agency or qualied nonprot which provides an inspection with documentation of compliance for the property.

This law also requires the California Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) to enter into a joint
powers agreement with the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal FIRE) to administer a
comprehensive wildre mitigation and assistance program to encourage cost-effective structure hardening and facilitate vegetation management, contingent upon appropriation by the Legislature. 

TDS Applicability and Exemptions

Because these new disclosure requirements are within the Civil Code Article (Article 1.5) governing
delivery of the Transfer Disclosure Statement, they will apply only in those transaction where the TDS is required to be delivered. For example, the standard TDS exemptions such as REO, probate, bankruptcy and certain trusts sales will not require delivery of these disclosures. 

TDS Cancellation Rights 

The TDS three or ve-day cancellation rights apply to these disclosures: three days if delivered personally or ve days if delivery by mail or electronically. Home Hardening and Defensible Space Laws * Government Code 51189 outlines home hardening measures that increase the likelihood of a structure to withstand ignition, such as building design and construction requirements that use re resistant building materials, and provide standards for reducing re risks on structure projections, including, but not limited to, porches, decks, balconies and eaves, and structure openings, such as, to the attic, foundation, and eave vents, doors, and windows as well as a list of low-cost retrots that provide for comprehensive site and structure re risk reduction to protect structures from res spreading from adjacent structures or vegetation.

** PRC 4291 and Gov’t Code 51182 require a person who owns, leases, controls, operates, or maintains a building or structure in, upon, or adjoining a mountainous area, forest-covered lands, brushcovered lands, grass-covered lands, or land that is covered with flammable material or is in a very high re hazard zone to maintain defensible space of 100 feet from each side and from the front and rear of the structure and among other things, remove portions of a tree that extend within 10 feet of a chimney; remove dead or dying wood from plants; or clear leaves and needles o of a roof; et cetera). 

Assembly Bill is codified as Civil Code 1102.6f and 1102.19; Public Resources Code 4123.7; and Article 16.5 of the Government Code. Eective date is January 1, 2020. But the eective dates of the disclosure requirements will be January 1, 2020; January 1, 2021; July 1, 2021; and July 1, 2025; depending on the disclosure.

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