When a sanitary sewer pipe breaks in a neighborhood in unincorporated Escambia County, who fixes it? Residents will often call the County to fix the problem, but the County has no obligation to remedy issues arising from undedicated or yet-to-be dedicated infrastructure. Infrastructure can include storm sewer, sanitary sewer, retention ponds, gas lines, waste treatment facilities, power grids, telecommunication facilities, and even common area features such as clubhouses and pools.
To clarify the responsible party for such infrastructure to the public, the Escambia County Board of County Commissioners passed two ordinances in February requiring detailed disclosures pertaining to infrastructure. These ordinances take effect June 1, 2017.
The first ordinance requires that a Seller of residential property in a platted subdivision disclose the person or entity responsible for maintenance and ownership of all infrastructure with the subdivision in a form provided by the County. This may mean identifying the telephone company, the private sanitary sewer treatment company, or the developer itself on a form provided to the buyer.
Prior to this ordinance’s adoption, sellers of such lots were already required to disclose abutting roadway maintenance in advance of sale contract execution. After May 31, 2017, sellers will no longer be required to disclose maintenance obligations prior to contract execution, and will have until closing to disclose both abutting roadway maintenance as well as infrastructure maintenance.
The second ordinance imposes an obligation on subdivision developers to identify parties responsible for infrastructure maintenance on a listing submitted with the final plat. The ordinance requires that the listing format should substantially mirror that set forth in the newly-revised Section 86-166.
The practical effect of these ordinances on real estate closings will be two new, mandatory forms to be completed at each closing: (1) the Abutting Roadway Maintenance Disclosure (previously mandated before contract execution), and (2) the Infrastructure Maintenance Disclosure. Attorneys representing sellers must be mindful to ensure these forms are accurate and up to date.
This ordinance also adds a new layer of information for the surveyor to collect from its developer client when formulating a final plat: an identification of each party responsible for all of the infrastructure identified on the plat. In many cases this will be the developer itself, and the plat will need to be amended over time as HOAs, service providers, or other entities take over responsibility and ownership from the developer.