FAQ: Local Issues

What you need to know about BMP’s – Better Management Practices

Installing BMP’s on all improved properties in the Lake Tahoe Basin, Residential and Commercial, has been a universal requirement for a number of years. It is simply part of the construction process for new development; for existing development, the retrofit program was divided up into three priorities, based upon the needs of that watershed and so forth. The trigger for BMP compliance on existing improved properties was staggered or staged based upon priority, with worst first. Priority One watersheds were brought into play a few years ago, Priority Two watersheds were put into play recently, and Priority Three watersheds are coming into play in the near future. Due to the vast number of properties involved in this program, and the different trigger points for mandated compliance, confusion and misunderstandings have emerged. Myth: BMP’s need to be installed before property can transfer ownership. Fact: ”Current regulations require that BMP status of the property be disclosed by the seller to the buyer before property can transfer ownership, with a copy of the disclosure form forwarded to TRPA’s Erosion Control Team.”
· BMP Priority Watershed Map
· BMP Retrofit Application

Backflow Prevention

Backflow protection device requirements have been implemented in the last few years throughout the Tahoe Basin. The reasoning is to further ensure your water quality. The protection devices are placed “in line” between your home’s water system and any sprinkling, irrigating or added on watering systems or supply lines. They prevent any chance of contaminated water from flowing back into your home system. Check with your local Public Utility District or water district or supplier to see how these rules may affect you and your home. In many cases, temporary sprinkling systems such as those seasonally placed on the end of your home’s originally installed frost free hose bib are exempt.

California Withholding Tax

Some years ago, the State of California decided that too many sellers were either selling property and moving out of state or selling and tying to get around paying the state’s “fair share” of capital gains taxes. As a result, California enacted into law a withholding tax to protect the state’s right to taxation. This tax is withheld by the title company at the close of escrow. The amount of withholding is 3-1/3%. California has a form given to sellers by the title company which addresses some of the exemptions available to sellers of real property in the State of California. Some of these include involvement in a 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange, sale of a residence used as a “primary” for 2 of the last 5 years (with
further parameters) and a sale of real property by a qualifying corporation. In all instances, you should consult your personal tax advisor to see how any of these could affect you.

The Sewer Test

All sellers should be made aware by their real estate agent that the local Public Utility Districts in the Tahoe Basin (NTPUD / TCPUD) will require, as a condition of closing escrow, that all sellers have their sewer lines tested by the appropriate agency. The test is conducted by any number of private firms (TAPCO is the most commonly-used company). The testing company will block the clean-outs at the house and at the street; if an older home does not have clean-outs, the company must install them. The sewer line is then pressurized to see if it holds the pressure for a prescribed time period. The sewer test is mandated by local Ordinance 100 in the TCPUD and Ordinance 175 in the NTPUD and is required to pass as a condition of closing the escrow. It is the responsibility of the seller to provide the clearance to the escrow company prior to the close of escrow. Typically the real estate agent will arrange the test. In the rare event that the test does not pass, meaning there is a leak somewhere in the line, it must be repaired as a condition of closing the escrow. In the event the line cannot be repaired by COE, (typically a winter situation) the utility agency will withhold an inflated estimate of what it would cost on a per square foot basis to replace the entire line; until the repairs are completed. In the vast majority of failed tests, only spot repair is required using by a fiber optic camera.