CA Water-Saving Plumbing Law Effects Investment Property Owners, Sellers, and Property Managers

A California law enacted in 2009 is finally taking effect and causing concerns among property owners, sellers, buyers, and realtors. California Civil Code Section 1101.4 requires owners of single-family residences which were “built or available for use on or before January 1, 1994” which will be altered or improved on or after January 1, 2014 to install water-conserving plumbing fixtures only when the existing plumbing fixtures are “non-compliant” by certain dates specified below.

A noncompliant plumbing fixture is defined by California Civil Code Sec. 1101.3 as:

1) Any toilet manufactured to use more than 1.6 gallons of water per flush;

2) Any urinal manufactured to use more than one gallon of water per flush;

3) Any showerhead manufactured to have a flow capacity of more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute; and

4) Any interior faucet that emits more than 2.2 gallons of water per minute.

Single-Family Residences are Required to be Compliant by January 1, 2017

California Civil Code Section 1101.4 requires that if a single-family residence is altered or improved on or after January 1, 2014, the installation of such fixtures must be a condition of the final building permit approval. In addition, all single-family residences must generally be equipped with such fixtures by January 1, 2017.

Multi-Family and Commercial Properties have Similar Requirements for Compliance

California Civil Code Section 1101.5 states that all multi-family residential properties and commercial properties with noncompliant plumbing fixtures must comply with the following requirements. As of January 1, 2014 all such properties must, as a condition of final building permit approval, replace all plumbing fixtures with water-conserving fixtures if:

1) Permits are obtained to increase the floor area of the building by more than 10%; or

2) Building alterations or improvements exceed $150,000 in costs; or

3) Permits are obtained for a room with plumbing fixtures.

In addition, by January 1, 2019, all multi-family and commercial properties must comply with this law by replacing all noncompliant plumbing fixtures. Sellers of such properties must disclose to the prospective buyer whether the property includes any noncompliant plumbing fixtures.

Effect on the Transfer Disclosure Statement (TDS)

A disclosure relating to this new law was added to the California TDS in the form of a check box on page one where a seller must disclose whether the property has water-conserving plumbing fixtures or not. As of now there is no requirement for the entire property to be compliant unless a triggering event occurred prior to sale, thus, the TDS has an explanatory note on page two:

What This Means During a Sales Transaction

Because the law does not fully require all properties to be fully compliant each seller, buyer, real estate agent, and property manager must fully understand the details, the deadlines, and the nuances of this law. If a seller checks the “Water-Conserving Plumbing Fixtures” box on page one of the TDS that does not mean that all of the plumbing fixtures are compliant. Thus, it is imperative for each seller, real estate agent, and property manager be fully aware of the deadline dates and the details of this law such that a proper disclosure can be made to a prospective buyer.

It is also a prudent practice to provide a prospective buyer with an Advisory or a disclosure representing the law (California Civil Code Sections 1101.1 through 1101.9) and the information available to the seller and/or the seller’s agent when entering into a sales transaction with a prospective buyer. It is also prudent to recommend that prospective purchasers consult with a competent California Real Estate Attorney prior to purchase. Professional property managers and property management companies must be mindful of this law to prevent the temptation of having work or repairs performed which do not comply with the new law.

Local Jurisdictions May Adopt Stricter Requirements

Finally, California Civil Code 1101.8 allows local jurisdictions like cities, counties, and towns to adopt stricter requirements. It is important to stress the possibility that local ordinances and laws may be stricter than California law and as such each prospective purchaser should also check with the local building department or community development department for the latest local plumbing requirements. Property managers who manager multiple residences for their clients should be out front on this new law as they are typically involved in the renovations and remodels of these types properties.

Real Estate Attorneys Can Help Property Owners in these Situations

Property management companies fortunate enough to have a real estate attorney available can help owners and sellers in these circumstances. A real estate attorney typically has the training, expertise, and procedural knowledge to help keep owners and sellers abreast of these changes in the law which seemingly occur each and every year.

A Legal Nightmare is Waiting For Employers Who Do Not Train Their Managers on FMLA and ADA

We get calls from all around the country from employees who want to know if their Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) rights have been violated. We explain that we are not attorneys. But here is one of the stories I was told by a caller:

I am 52 years old and I worked for (one of the biggest pet store chains in the US) XYZ as a store manager. At work I slipped on some water, fell and hurt my hip. I have a bad hip, and the doctor said I needed hip surgery. I went to my regional manager and told him I needed two weeks off for surgery.

I asked the caller, “Did they offer your FMLA paper work, and explain to you your FMLA rights? Did they give you the forms, et al?”

No, all he said was that he could not give me two weeks off but only one week. I had the surgery, came back and my doctor told me not to lift anything more than 20 pounds. I told my manager this restriction. Things went fine until one day some of the guys, who move dog food around, did not show for work and the manager told me to move them. I reminded him of my restriction of 20 pounds and he said “just bend from the knees, and move it all.” I reinjured myself and as I could barely move, things were not getting done in the store as fast and my regional manager fired me for bad performance.

Again we could not give him legal advice, but this is a classic example of a company not training its management/supervisors in Family Medical Leave Act and Americans with Disabilities Act. This man was entitled to up to 12 weeks of job protected leave and should have been given the forms and an explanation of his rights. Supervisors are personally liable for violating FMLA. Also, when he came back to work the weight restriction was a reasonable accommodation and should have been made via the ADA.

Imagine the lawsuit the man above might initiate. This all could have been avoided by having a 1 hour training session, twice a year with every manager and supervisor of XYZ. This is why we provide FMLA and ADA training for managers/supervisors. It is not enough that the HR dept knows these federal laws, the front line managers have to know these laws too, so they do not violate them and get the company and themselves into a lawsuit.

This article is not an insurance policy. All questions of insurance coverage are determined by your insurance policy. We are also not a law firm and we do not offer any legal advice.

Feng Shui Outdoor Water Fountains and Prosperity

A few years ago on Mother’s Day, one of my clients received a beautiful outdoor fountain as a gift from her son and husband. They placed it in the front yard so they could all enjoy it as they came and went. The following November she made another appointment with me to come back to the house because her husband was having problems at work and it was getting worse and worse. I arrived on a Saturday. He had been fired the day before. The reason for his dismissal didn’t have anything to do with his abilities or value to the company, in fact, the head of the company held him in high regard. He had been arguing with his immediate supervisor for months and when the head of the company went on vacation, the supervisor fired my client’s husband. Sneaky, sneaky. The whole thing happened because the fountain was placed in the wrong spot. My client was excited about her gift and never thought it could create any problems so she didn’t think to check about the right spot to place it. They just put it where they could enjoy it the most. That’s what most people do with outdoor fountains.

Feng shui practitioners who use a compass will typically place fountains or other moving water features in the north, southeast or east of a home or office. Even that isn’t a safe bet. Moving water is an “activator” and you need to be careful where you put it. Moving water on the OUTSIDE of a building activates the flying star energy pattern INSIDE the building in the compass section it is adjacent to. If the energy pattern is positive, then the fountain will enhance that positive energy. If the energy pattern is negative, the fountain will make it worse. My clients placed their fountain next to a compass section with a negative energy pattern and that’s when the problems at work began for my client’s husband. The exterior fountain was activating a 3 water star inside the house – a star known for arguments and legal issues. The arguing with the supervisor began when the fountain was placed in the yard.

Flying star energy patterns are determined by the year a building is built and the compass degree it faces. My book Creating A Haven: Simple Steps For A Healthy And Nurturing Home has the flying star energy patterns for every building built between 1924 and 2024 so you can easily find out how the energy patterns are affecting you in your home or office. Whenever you try any feng shui technique, such as adding a water feature for prosperity, write down when you applied it and what it was supposed to do. Then you can check your notes later and see what kind of results you got.