What do you do if you have a home in South Lake Tahoe that has a bathroom addition that wasn't put in with the correct permits and processes? This is a question we get a lot from clients. Thankfully now the local utility district has come up with an answer that works in the homeowners favor.
In the past, when a homeowner found out they had an illegal bathroom that had been added onto the house before they became the owners, they would be liable for past-due fees as well as the sewer unit fees. These fees could add up to over $6,000. But the South Tahoe Public Utility District (S.T.P.U.D.) made a change to their administrative process recently in an effort to make it easier and cheaper for home owners to make their extra bathrooms legal in the Utility Districts eyes.
So here is how it works for two different scenarios:
Current Owners If the current home owner is the one who installed the additional bathroom without getting the appropriate sewer units or fees, under the current policy they could simply pay the $2895 (additional sewer capacity charge + permit fee) and then the additional sewer unit would add $42 per quarter to their regular sewer bill. This is cheaper than in the past when the owner would have to pay all of the past due fees and penalties plus the $2895.
It is good to remember that S.T.P.U.D. already charges for a certain number of sewer units based on the bedroom count of the house. So for a 2 bedroom home, they are billing for 3 sewer units: 1 kitchen and 2 bathrooms. If the house originally only had 1 bathroom, and a 2nd one was added without permits, you wouldn't need to pay the additional $2895 since you are already paying for the 2nd bathroom. Check with S.T.P.U.D. for more information and to verify the sewer units being billed to you currently.
New Owners What about if you purchased a home and later found out that one (or more) of the bathrooms were added by a previous owner without telling S.T.P.U.D.? As long as you can show some kind of proof that you didn't install the extra bathroom, you won't pay $2895 fee and would only pay the additional $42 per quarter for the additional sewer unit.
Remember, the actual written policy for handling illegal bathroom additions is to charge the past due fees and the new sewer unit hookup fees. What is mentioned above is simply a current administrative policy that was enacted by the current management at S.T.P.U.D. and could change in the future.
Our recommendation is that if you have a house that has an additional bathroom, now is a good time to take advantage of the current policy to make the bathroom legal for the utility districts. You should contact the local building department (City of South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County building departments) as they might impose their own fees and fines on bathrooms that were added without proper permits. You should contact the local building department for more information.
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