Who Pays for Inspections of the Septic Tank?

Question

I have a listing where there are multiple septic tanks on the property. One septic tank services the main house and one septic tank services a shop in the backyard.

My sellers already paid for an inspection of the septic tank that services the main house.

The buyer’s agent is now telling me that my sellers also have to pay for an inspection of the other septic tank, per the contract. Is this correct?

Answer

In January, 2015, the Louisiana Real Estate Commission revised the standard Purchase Agreement (PA) to remove language regarding private water/sewerage systems from the lines of the PA and replaced those lines with a private water/sewerage addendum.

This private water/sewerage addendum has been in use for over two years, now. So, I presume your client (the seller) and the buyer signed this addendum.

According to the first line of paragraph one (1) of this private water/sewerage addendum,

“The SELLER agrees to have _____ septic/treatment system(s) servicing only the primary residence inspected and approved by the appropriate governmental/governing authority.”

This language in the private water/sewerage addendum is consistent with lines 202-204 of the standard PA, wherein the sellers are only asked to disclose the number of septic tanks that service the primary residence.  According to lines 202-204 of the PA,

“There is/are __________ (____) private septic/treatment system(s) servicing only the primary residence and the attached private Septic/Water Addendum inspections shall include only those systems supplying service to the primary residence.”

So, unless the sellers agreed in writing to inspect the septic tank located on the property that services the shop in the backyard, the buyer’s agent is incorrect. The seller’s only obligation was to inspect the septic tank servicing the main house.

Unfortunately, the buyers will have to pay to inspect the septic tank that services the shop in the backyard.

In the future, it is recommended the Buyer’s agent determine, prior to writing the initial offer, how many septic tanks are located on the property and what structures each septic tank services. This will allow the buyers to properly negotiate sellers having to pay for inspections of all septic tanks located on the property.