Selling A House With A Septic System In Massachusetts? What You Need To Know About Title 5

Posted on: 15 December 2015


When you own a home in Massachusetts with a septic tank or cesspool, you must comply with strict state rules to inspect your wastewater treatment system before you can sell your house. If you are unaware of Massachusetts sewer system rules, collectively known as Title 5, or need a refresher on the legislation, the following primer provides you with a succinct review.

Title 5 Basics

Per state law, any home with a septic tank or cesspool must be examined by a licensed inspector before the property is transferred to a new owner. An inspection is also necessary if you divide or combine residential properties.

Even though Title 5 is a part of the state's environmental laws, your municipal board of health administers the septic tank regulations. When you make the decision to put your home on the market, contact the board of health to get information on the requirements for getting your sewage system inspected. If you are transferring the house deed to a spouse or immediate relative, you are exempt from the Title 5 inspection requirements.

Hire a State-approved Septic System Inspector

Sewage system professionals must be licensed by the state in order to perform maintenance and upgrades of residential wastewater systems. Furthermore, in order to conduct a Title 5 inspection, sewage system experts must take an additional certification class and pass an exam.

Be aware that scam artists attempt to entice unsuspecting homeowners with low-ball offers to perform Title 5 inspections. If you pay for work by a phony inspector, the timely sale of your home will be jeopardized and you will lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars paid to the fraudulent individual.

Do not pay for work by anyone who does not provide proof of a state license and Title 5 certification. If you want to verify the legal status of a contractor, contact your local board of health for a list of licensed and certified Title 5 inspectors based in your area.

If you suspect that someone is fraudulently performing Title 5 inspections, report them to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Affairs.

Make Upgrades to Your Septic System

If you have been vigilant about the maintenance of your septic tank system, you should not have to worry about passing a Title 5 inspection. However, if it has been years since you have drained the septic tank or performed repairs, brace yourself for potentially thousands of dollars in upgrades.

The board of health may provide you with a conditional pass if you only need to make certain minor repairs. Once you fix the issues, the board will provide you with a certificate of compliance.

Defective cesspools do not qualify for conditional passes. Unlike septic tanks, cesspools do not break down and treat waste. They are standalone underground containers that must be drained much more frequently than a septic tank. If your cesspool is defective, it will pollute groundwater. You will need to replace the structure with a standard septic tank and leach field.

Seek Assistance if You Need Help Paying for Septic System Upgrades

Repairing or replacing a sewer system can be an expensive endeavor. You can help ease the financial burden by applying for the Title 5 Septic System Expenditures Credit on your state personal income tax. Talk to your accountant about how to file for this income tax credit.

If you simply cannot afford the financial outlay to make expensive sewer upgrades, you can apply for a low- or no-interest septic system repair loan from lenders that participate in a program sponsored by MassHousing. Loan amounts vary from $1,000 to $25,000 and are available for single-family and multi-family homes as well as condominiums. In addition, loan terms range from 3 to 20 years.

For more information, contact a company like John C Parmenter Inc.