Anyone planning to sell a home in Massachusetts is required to secure a Title 5 inspection prior to the closing date to ensure the property’s septic system (or rarely, its cesspool) is working properly. It is generally the seller’s responsibility to arrange this inspection and secure a certificate before the house is sold, and also to provide a copy of the inspection report to the buyer. The Title 5 certificate is good for two years, or three years if your system is pumped annually. Condominiums, state and federal facilities also require an inspection periodically.
Title 5 is important because non-functioning septic systems and cesspools are a health hazard to surrounding towns if they contaminate water in the area. Licensed inspectors will look at the general layout of the system, the age of the septic tank, the soil absorption system, the distribution box, high groundwater elevation, and whether there has been a system backup.
Even if you do not sell the property after a Title 5 inspection, you will be required to repair or replace a failed onsite waste disposal system. If the system passes inspection, responsibility for any future problems will fall on the new homeowners. Replacing a septic system can cost anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000 and can involve digging up your yard, which can be a major setback when you are going through the closing process. For this reason, it is recommended to get your Title 5 inspection out of the way as early as possible if you are considering selling your home.
For more information, follow the links below:
Watch a video on how a septic system works
Find general regulations & standards
Look through a glossary of common terms