To help reduce the risk of wildfire destruction, beginning July 1, 2021, sellers of property in high fire zones must disclose to buyers their home's vulnerability to flying embers. (Civ. Code § 1102.19) This includes items such as:
- Eave, soffit, and roof ventilations that are not flame- and ember-resistant;
- Roof coverings made of untreated wood shingles or shakes;
- Combustible landscaping or other materials within five feet of the home;
- Single-pane or nontempered glass windows;
- Loose or missing bird stopping or roof flashing;
- Rain gutters without noncombustible gutter covers.
In addition, the seller must obtain a certificate that their property is in compliance with Section 4291 of the Public Resources Code or local vegetation management ordinances. The default brush clearance requirement is 100 feet from each side and from each of the front and rear of the structure. See sample Fire Inspection Form.
Condominiums. For single family homes in planned developments, it is clear who is required to inspect and make disclosures — the owner. What about condominiums where the structure is owned in common? The statute makes no exception for condos. It states, "the seller of any real property" shall make disclosures. It means boards of directors of condominium and townhome associations need to have their properties inspected and then circulate a report to all members so owners can make appropriate disclosures to buyers.
Fire Map. More than 2,000,000 California households (almost one in four), are located in high to very high fire hazard zones. To find out if your property is affected, visit the CalFire website and enter your address. Information on fire hardening, including current building standards and information on minimum annual vegetation management standards to protect homes from wildfires, can be found at ReadyForWildfire.org.
Recommendation. Boards and homeowners should immediately request a "Defensible Space Inspection" to determine if their properties meet new fire safety requirements. For more information, see Defensible Space Program and Fire Hazard Severity Zones.
ASSISTANCE: Associations needing legal assistance can contact us. To stay current with issues affecting community associations, subscribe to the Davis-Stirling Newsletter.