Do Sellers Have to Inspect Their Septic Tank 30 Days Prior To Closing?

Question

I am the listing Agent on a property that has a septic tank on-site. We are under contract to sell the home. We used the most updated Purchase Agreement (PA) for 2017.

My Sellers had the septic tank inspected about one (1) year ago and I provided the inspection report to the Buyer’s Agent. The Buyer’s Agent keeps telling me we have to have an inspection done within thirty (30) days of the closing date, but I don’t see this timeframe anywhere in the PA.

Is the Buyer’s Agent correct?

Answer

I’m pretty sure the Buyer’s Agent is referencing the thirty (30) day requirement found in the old PA used prior to January 1, 2015.

Up until January 1, 2015, lines 193 to 200 of the PA read as follows:

PRIVATE WATER/SEWERAGE: In the event there is a private water system or private sewerage system on the Property, the SELLER shall provide, at SELLER’s expense, approval of the private water or sewerage system operation, in accordance with the appropriate governmental entity or duly licensed private entity. An approved sewerage and/or water inspection report will be issued within thirty (30) days prior to the Act of Sale by the appropriate governmental agency or duly licensed private entity. The approved inspection and test on the water and/or sewerage system are to be furnished and paid for by the SELLER. Any private water system or private sewerage system repairs necessary to obtain approved inspection certificate will be paid by SELLER.

This language was changed effective January 1, 2015. Starting January 1, 2015, lines 189-199 of the PA read as follows:

PRIVATE WATER/SEWERAGE:

There is/are __________ (____) private water system(s) servicing only the primary residence, and the attached private Septic/Water Addendum inspections shall include only the system(s) supplying service to the primary residence.

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.

There is NO private septic/treatment system(s) servicing only the primary residence.

So, beginning January 1, 2015, the thirty (30) day requirement was eliminated and the timing of the inspection was governed by the language found in the private Septic/Water Addendum.

A review of the private Septic/Water Addendum indicates there is no timeframe as to when the inspection must be done prior to closing.

Most Parishes, however, do have time limitations on the inspection reports they will accept in order to switch utilities from the Seller to the Buyer.

So, to answer your question: unless the Parish requires the inspection be complete within thirty (30) days of the closing date in order to transfer utilities, the Buyer’s Agent is incorrect – the inspection does not have to be complete within thirty (30) days of the closing.

Recommendations for Buyer’s Agents:

1. Since the new private Septic/Water Addendum leaves open the possibility that an inspection two (2) or more years old would be compliant, it is recommended that Buyers incorporate into their offer a time frame for the inspection report.
2. Since most Parishes have time-frames for inspection reports, it’s a good idea for Buyers’ Agents to double check these Parish time limitations prior to writing any offers and incorporate these Parish time limitations into the Buyers’ offer