Since 2011, the county has mandated obtaining a Use Permit when selling any property with a septic system. This permit might also be necessary if you're expanding your home or altering the property's use. Even if you sell the home "As Is," a Use Permit is still required.
Understanding the Use Permit
A Use Permit is essential at the time of sale to demonstrate to the buyer and their lender that the septic system complies with local regulations and is in proper working order. It ensures that the new owner doesn't inherit a defective septic system.
Acquiring a Use Permit
Securing a Use Permit entails having the septic tank pumped no more than a year before closing and conducting a Certified Use Inspection. Should any components not comply with county standards, they'll need updating.
An inspector will assess the entire septic system. Someone will need to be present to run water through the system, allowing the inspector to check if everything is flowing well from the house to the tank. They'll also test the leach field's absorption and inspect the tank's condition, subsequently providing a report on any code compliance issues. All necessary repairs must be completed before closing, and an application for the Use Permit, with repair verification, must be submitted to the County Health Department. Typically, it takes 3-7 business days for the permit to be issued, so plan accordingly!
Options if Repairs Can't be Made in Time
Should repairs be unfeasible before closing, a Conditional Use Permit may be granted, providing an additional 30-60 days to complete the work post-sale, depending on your county. The buyer will need to sign an Agree to Repair form, acknowledging the required repairs, which must be notarized. Once repairs are made to code, a Final Use Permit is issued to the new owner.
Tips for a Smooth Process
· Schedule the inspection and pumping early, ideally once the property is under contract, allowing 3-4 weeks before closing for any potential repairs.
· Regular upkeep of your septic system can significantly reduce the likelihood of needing repairs at the time of sale.
· Uncover septic tank lids prior to the inspection to avoid extra labor costs.
Key Points to Remember
· Someone should be present during the inspection to facilitate water flow through the system.
· Either the homeowner or a Certified Septic Contractor can submit the Use Permit Application—our company offers this service.
· A Use Permit's validity ranges from 6-12 months, depending on the county, with a 6-month extension available if needed.
· Some lenders may not accept a Conditional Use Permit and may insist on repairs before closing.
Typical Findings in a Use Inspection
· Septic tank lids should be at ground level; if not, risers may be necessary to bring them to grade.
· Lids that are damaged may require replacement with appropriate materials.
· Missing or damaged inlet or outlet tees, or baffles, might need replacement with new PVC components.
· Settling or blockages in the piping may require a camera inspection to determine if repairs are needed.
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