“I have a question. Does the seller always have to tent their home for termites when they sell?”
First of all, there’s no law requiring a termite clearance. So, if you want a termite clearance, you must request it in your offer.
The two main categories of pest control work are “Section 1” and “Section 2.” Section 1 covers current problems (e.g. termites, dry rot). Section 2 covers preventative items (e.g. “earth to wood contact” that may lead to dry rot).
The accepted practice in southern California is for the seller to provide you a “Section 1” Pest Control Clearance. If the inspector finds drywood termites in an isolated area, they may be able to do a local treatment if the inspector thinks he can get all the termites.
If the drywood termites have spread too much, they’ll need to tent the home or use other non-traditional means, like microwaving or freezing.
And “subterranean” or underground termites are never treated by fumigating. Instead, they inject poison into the ground.
So whether your San Diego home is tented depends on whether, where, and what kind of termites are found.