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Realtors: City Council Wants 'Access to Citizens Homes and to Assess Fines'

The South San Francisco City Council will discuss extra inspections on homes for sale and the San Mateo County Association of Realtors is speaking out.

Contributed by San Mateo County Association of Realtors:

On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the South Francisco City Council will hold a second study session on the city’s current practice of mandating a sewer lateral as well as home inspection before the sale of a private residence is allowed to close. The meeting, which begins at 6:30 p.m., will be held in the City Council Chambers, located in the Municipal Services Building at 33 Arroyo Dr.

“As realtors, we have serious practical and legal concerns with South San Francisco invading the privacy of its citizens with warrantless inspections, and interfering with a citizen’s right to buy or sell their home,” said Steve Blanton, Executive Officer for the San Mateo County Association of Realtors (SAMCAR). “At the first study session last October, the city council gave specific direction to the fire department to meet with the real estate industry and come back with alternatives to these costly-time-of sale mandates."

In the course of researching the issue, SAMCAR found that some homeowners had been fined in excess of $80,000.

“The meetings have occurred; the alternatives have not. South San Francisco Citizens are mostly unaware about the city’s ability to stop the sale of their residence and assess outlandish fines in the process. These point of sale inspections are more about public finance than public safety,” Blanton said.

Councilmember Kevin Mullin stated in October that, “we don’t want to stop the sales of homes in South San Francisco, but we do want adequate safety assurances.”

SAMCAR agrees, but notes South San Francisco is the only municipality in San Mateo County that mandates home inspections for matters already covered by state law. Property disclosure requirements are required for such items as operating smoke detectors and earthquake-safe water heater strapping — the very items the city says it needs to inspect.

“That same state law also provides for sellers to comply using self-certification,” Blanton said. “The truth is these inspections are not required under state law and to top it off, the city’s ordinance expired years ago — the one they claimed gave them the authority to conduct the inspections.”

Blanton went on to explain, “even the Fire Department – who performs the home inspections — admitted there is no legally enforceable ordinance. But that does not stop them from continuing to require the inspections. Residents are protected under the 4th amendment of the Constitution from warrantless searches. The city claims this is a public safety and health issue, which would make it citywide in scope and not just limited to those who buy or sell property. The inspections are a ruse to gain access to citizens homes and to assess fines.”

How do you feel about these extra home inspections? Is the city over-stepping its boundaries or are they appropriate? Tell us in the comments!

wolfone January 11, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Why all the screaming? I thought it was the LAW that homes for sale be up to code and have recent roof inspection etc? When I bought my house it had been inspected by the fire dept and make sure it had working fire alarms and C02 alarm...I don't see what the big deal is? Tea bags trying to cloud the safety issue. :(
Juan Bustos January 11, 2013 at 07:21 PM
Wolfone, with all due respoect, if they did it for ffree that would be great... but they will charge and charges and keep charging. The fees will start off small but that will just keep going up and up and up as their spending for artwork increases... This is first for your safety and now it is for a fee and next is harrassment. Don't be surprised to see this proposed at a State level. When will the tax and spend stop?
Sue Vaterlaus January 12, 2013 at 12:42 AM
No homes have to be brought to code and there are no requirements for inspection in any sale, The seller certifies that they have smoke detectors, carbon monoxide, strapped water heater and release mechanisms on window bars. That is the extent of the seller certification for the interior of a home. By practice most people get pest and property inspections but they are not required.
Mittens124 January 12, 2013 at 04:52 AM
I don't think the city is being fair since they know the windows from the airport are not all in compliance and that should have been stopped when they were installed. Also all the grandfathered stuff will be another issue more money for them and more for us to spend.

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