This is the final episode in our new series covering the contents and consequences of information in a Structural Pest Control Report (SPC), and an agent’s duty to advise sellers and buyers on their respective responsibilities for the removal of pests and needed repairs.

The fourth episode covers addressing an active termite infestation or fungus infection and issuance of a Pest Control Certification.

Reinspections for corrections made

If an estimate for corrective work is not given by the structural pest control (SPC) company, the company is not required to perform a reinspection. A reinspection is mandated when a separated report is requested. The separation requires an estimate for repairs to allocate the costs to perform each and every recommendation for corrective measures for Section I and II items.

The reinspection is performed within 10 days of a requested inspection. A simple reinspection and certification will occur at that time. However, if more than four months have passed since the original inspection and report, a reinspection will not suffice. A full (original) inspection is then completed and a new (original) inspection report is issued. [Calif. Business and Profession Code §8516(b); 16 Calif. Code of Regulations §1993]

The person who ordered the report is never required to hire the SPC company that inspected the property to perform any corrective measures. For instance, a second SPC company can be called in to work on the structure. However, this second company sends a Branch 3 licensee to inspect the property since they may not rely on the report furnished by the original SPC company to perform repair work. [Bus & P C §8516(b); Pestmaster Services, Inc. v. Structural Pest Control Board (1991) 227 CA3d 903]

Further, the owner may not want to use an SPC company to perform the corrective work. Here, the owner may hire a licensed contractor to remove and replace a structure damaged by wood-destroying pests or organisms if the work is incidental to other work being performed or is identified by an SPC inspection report. A licensed contractor cannot perform any work that requires an SPC license to complete. [Bus & P C §8556]

However, when the original SPC company gives an estimate or makes a bid to undertake corrective measures and the owner hires someone else to perform the corrective measures, the original SPC company will need to return and reinspect the property before issuing a certification. The original SPC company will not certify treatments performed by another SPC company without a reinspection. [Bus & P C §8516(b)]

Notice of Work Completed

An SPC company is required to prepare a Notice of Work Completed and Not Completed for any work they undertake on a structure. The notice is given to the owner or the owner’s agent within 10 working days after completing any work. The notice includes a statement of the cost of the completed work and the estimated cost of any work not completed. A copy of the Notice of Work Completed and Not Completed is delivered by the seller or seller’s agent to the buyer or buyer’s agent as soon as possible. [Bus & P C §8518; 16 CCR §1996.2; CC §1099(b)]

If the property is fumigated, the fumigation company (which needs to hold a Branch 1 license) will issue a certification of fumigation within five days.

After any SPC company completes treatment or repairs, a completion tag must be placed next to the inspection tag. The completion tag must display:

  • the name of the company;
  • the date of completion; and
  • the name of any chemicals used. [Bus & P C §8518; 16 CCR §1996.1]

An SPC company is only required to certify its inspection and repair work if requested by the person ordering the report. The company, after completing the inspection or work, will certify upon request that:

  • the inspection disclosed no evidence of active infestations or infections in the visible and accessible areas;
  • the inspection disclosed evidence of active infestations or infections and that they have been corrected; or
  • the property is free of active infestations or infections in the visible and accessible areas.

Teaching your seller to “own it”

In a buyer’s market and the years immediately following, seller’s agents are going to need to school their sellers on what a buyer will and will not tolerate and get their seller’s authorization to hire a structural pest control operator. When it comes to the SPC inspection, report, repair and certification, they all initially belong to the seller. Further, the obligation usually remains with the seller since no buyer’s agent worth their salt is going to allow their buyer to purchase termites or their breeding grounds. [See RPI Form 132]

In a seller’s market, a seller may be able to make a buyer pay for the seller’s termite problem, leave conditions that may lead to future infestations and infections unfixed, and still command a price at a multiple of the amount they paid for the property.

Seller’s brokers and agents need to make sure sellers understand that if they don’t want to continue “owning” the termites (and the property), they need to fix and maintain the property in a marketable condition.

If not, they need to be prepared to fight over the price they want for their home – and most likely lose that battle.