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Purchasing Property in Unsewered Areas

Buying real estate is an exciting experience. Doing a little due diligence will make sure there are no unpleasant surprises after the sale.

Why you should care

The current owner of a property is responsible for the effective operation of the septic system, regardless of any action or inaction of previous owners. This means you could unsuspectingly take on major costs, such as:

  • Servicing and pump out overdue: estimated $300
  • Unapproved modification of system or system not in compliance with permit: remediation costs can be $1,000+
  • System irreparably damaged or failing due to poor maintenance: full replacement of system, estimated $14,000+

Septic type, size and location can also limit potential extensions or uses of buildings, preventing you from using the property as you intended.

What you can do

A few easy steps can help make sure there are no nasty surprises after settlement:

  • Ask the vendor to provide records of inspections and servicing by a licensed plumber
  • Ask for an inspection, servicing and, if applicable, necessary maintenance of the system be completed as part of the contract for purchase
  • Have a licensed plumber inspect the system to give advice on possible future issues
  • Ask for the vendor to provide a copy of the Permit to Install for the system (if they do not have a copy they can apply to council for the permit conditions and system site plans)
  • Ask for the vendor to provide a copy of the Land Capability Assessment which determines the type of systems viable on the land
  • Apply to Council to have the septic system inspected – please note fees do apply.

Download the Fact Sheet