Pasadena Occupancy Inspection & How it Impacts the Transaction
By Matt
July 3, 2013

Many home buyers and sellers find themselves taken aback when they find that the City of Pasadena requires an occupancy inspection prior to the close of escrow on any single or multi-family dwelling units. (This only pertains to those parts of the city under it's jurisdiction and do not apply to unincorporated areas)

Normally the process is started by either the seller of the property or the sellers listing agent at the Code Compliance Section of the Planning & Development Dept, located in the permit center at 175 N Garfield. The fee is determined on the amount of units and property type being inspected. Once the fees are paid and the applicable forms are filed the City will set a date to have a code compliance officer come and visit the home.

On the day of the inspection typically the homeowner and/or the listing agent is there to greet the inspector and give them access to any areas that they may need to investigate. And this is where problems can begin to unexpectedly come to the surface for a homeowner and potential buyer. Small violations such as missing smoke detectors, damaged or missing window screens and over grown vegetation are common items that come up and will only require the homeowners signature that the required repairs have been made. More serious violations such as garages converted to living spaces, unpermitted structures and failed safety systems will require re-inspection and sign off by the original inspector.

Another very common and much disputed item that is becoming more and more common is sdidewalk damage in front of a property owners home. The city contends that any sidewalk area in front of a home is the responsibility of the property owner and will need to be fixed by city contractors at THE OWNERS EXPENSE!! Often times the damage to the sidewalk is caused by tree roots from a City owned tree. However they are not negoitable on the fact that the sidewalk is the responsibility of the homeowner! This cost alone can be devastating to a sale that is just barley keeping it's head above water. Couple that with other required repairs and you have a recipe for some major problems. 

Most agents that work in the Pasadena area are well aware of these issues and will know the majority of items that will be called out by a code compliance officer. Ideally they will try to head off or at least warn the involved parties before the inspection is performed. All too often though out of area agents or repairs not expected by even the most seasoned of agents can arise.

This is where teamwork and collaboration really have to shine between all parties. A good pair of Realtors can go along way in defusing this ticking time bomb. Further most REO/foreclosures and short sales will require that the buyer build the cost of these repairs into the sale, becausethe seller normally does not pay for them. This requires the buyer to sign a waiver and transfer of liability in order to obtain a temporary certificate of occupancy. The buyer will then typically be given 30-60 days after the close of escrow to make the required repairs and receive a permanent certificate of occupancy.

If you are considering buying or selling a home in the Pasadena area this is a very critical part of the selling process and all the more encourages the use of a good Realtor who knows the area, inspectors, potential pitfalls and how to navigate them