Report 2015-134 Recommendation 5 Responses

Report 2015-134: Residential Building Records: The Cities of San Rafael, Novato, and Pasadena Need to Strengthen the Implementation of Their Resale Record Programs (Release Date: March 2016)

Recommendation #5 To: Novato, City of

To verify that new property owners are aware of the health and safety concerns at their properties and any corrections they need to make, Novato should develop a process to ensure that it receives homeowners' cards.

Agency Response*

As stated in our May 23, 2016 response, City staff met with the Marin Association of Realtors and contacted other municipalities with resale inspection programs to determine if any could identify means of ensuring return of homeowners' cards. Each indicated they knew of no such data source or means of assuring and monitoring the return of the cards by new homeowners.

As we previously discussed with the State audit team, the City's ordinance requires the seller to return the homeowner card, since it is the seller who is required to obtain the inspection and comply with the ordinance. However, once the sale transaction has been completed, the City has no way to know the seller's new address, often having moved out of town, and subsequent to the sale the City only has legal recourse against the seller.

The City expressed the impracticality of this recommendation to the State audit team and considers this investigation confirming these constraints as having satisfied the recommendation of the audit.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: March 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement

As referenced in our assessments of Novato's 60-day and six-month responses, we do not believe that this recommendation has been sufficiently addressed. The city should still develop a process, as having signed homeowner cards would enhance the city's confidence that buyers and sellers are more fully complying with the resale record ordinance and that the purposes of the ordinance are being met.


Agency Response*

As stated in our May 23, 2016 response, City staff met with the Marin Association of Realtors and contacted other municipalities with resale inspection programs to determine if any could identify means of ensuring return of homeowners' cards. Each indicated they knew of no such data source or means of assuring and monitoring the return of the cards by new homeowners.

As we previously discussed with the State audit team, the City's ordinance requires the seller to return the homeowner card, since it is the seller who is required to obtain the inspection and comply with the ordinance. However, once the sale transaction has been completed, the City has no way to know the seller's new address, often having moved out of town, and subsequent to the sale the City only has legal recourse against the seller.

The City expressed the impracticality of this recommendation to the State audit team and considers this investigation confirming these constraints as having satisfied the recommendation of the audit.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: April 2016
  • Response Date: September 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement

As referenced in our assessment of Novato's 60-day response, we do not believe that this recommendation has been sufficiently addressed. The city should still develop a process, as having signed homeowner cards would enhance the city's confidence that buyers and sellers are more fully complying with the resale record ordinance and that the purposes of the ordinance are being met.


Agency Response*

City staff met with the chief executive of the Marin Association of Realtors and contacted several other municipalities with resale inspection programs to determine if any knew of reliable and current data sources identifying all residential property sale transactions or other means of ensuring return of homeowners' cards. Each indicated they knew of no such data source or means of assuring and monitoring the return of the cards by new homeowners.

As we discussed with the State audit team, we cannot determine a way to ensure return of the homeowner's cards. The City's ordinance requires the seller to return the homeowner card, since it is the seller who is required to obtain the inspection and comply with the ordinance. However, once the sale transaction has completed, the City has no way to know the seller's new address and in many instances the seller is no longer present in the jurisdiction.

We consider this investigation as having satisfied the recommendation of the audit.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Completion Date: April 2016
  • Response Date: May 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement

We do not believe that this recommendation has been sufficiently addressed. The city should still develop a process, as having signed homeowner cards would enhance the city's confidence that buyers and sellers are more fully complying with the resale record ordinance and that the purposes of the ordinance are being met.


All Recommendations in 2015-134

†Response Type refers to the interval in which the auditee is providing the State Auditor with their status in implementing recommendations made in an audit report. Auditees must submit a response regarding their progress in implementing recommendations from our reports at three intervals from the release of the report: 60 days, six months, and one year or subsequent to one year.

*Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.


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