Given the new law that just went into effect on January 1, 2017 in California, this is a great question. Let’s explore the answer.
Effective on January 1, 2017, if a home in California was built prior to January 1, 1994, then a new California law now says that the owner must have water conserving toilets, and water conserving shower heads and fixtures. Obviously, this is in response to the drought of the past few years, and was voted in by our State government.
In the past, whenever the State passed a law of this type, usually the trigger for getting this work done was the sale of the home. However, not in this case. For this new law, there is no enforcement mechanism for the home owner to have this work done. There is no government department who is going to knock on your door to see if it is done, no “selling the home” mandate for the work to be done, and no penalty (at this time) if the work is not completed by the home owner. In essence, the State has passed a law that relies solely on the owner of the home to comply.
Why is this important?
Because there are some plumbing companies now out in the public scaring home owners about needing to do all this work or they are in violation of the law…and getting all this work done is expensive! We are all for water conservation, but we don’t like scare tactics being used in order to drum-up work. Our assumption is the reason the State government had no enforcement mechanism is precisely because of the expense, and instead is leaving it up to each individual home owner.
But what happens when the home owner wants to sell the house…do the plumbing upgrades need to be done then? Not necessarily. At that point, the seller’s obligation is merely to disclose the the prospective buyer that the water conserving upgrades have not been done…and if this is OK with the buyer, then it’s no problem. Some buyers may insist the upgrades be done by the seller, and some may not be to concerned about it. Every buyer is different. What is important here is that the seller needs to DISCLOSE to the buyer, but not necessarily UPGRADE to comply with the law.
In the end, compliance is left to each home owner, or to the buyer and seller in a sale of the property, and all home owners should be aware of this so they are not “talked into” spending a lot of money when it may not be necessary. As a home owner, we want you to know your options.