New septic tank being installed (C) Daniel FriedmanMassachusetts Septic System Testing Law
     

  • Massachusetts Title 5 - Massachusetts Title 5 Septic Inspection & Testing Law & Guidelines
    • Septic system design and maintenance laws, codes, and regulations
    • When is a Title 5 septic system inspection required?
    • How do I obtain a Title 5 Septic Inspection
    • Where can I see the forms, regulations, etc. for Title 5 Septic Inspections?
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the Massachusetts Title 5 Septic Testing Law and Title 5 Septic Testing procedures
  • REFERENCES

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Information about Septic System Inspection and Testing as Regulated in Massachusetts. This document provides information about septic inspection and testing as regulated by law in Massachusetts. We include links to the actual provisions of the law and contact information for state authorities, as well as history and news release information for this topic. This information is provided by the author, as a public service; it has not been reviewed nor sanctioned by MA state authorities.

Readers should also see SEPTIC BOOKS REFERENCES CODES and for laws and regulations in various states and provinces, see SEPTIC AUTHORITIES, DESIGN REGS.

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State Regulations in Massachusetts Regulate Septic System Inspection & Testing

New Massachusetts Septic Testing Regulations take effect 1 April, 1995, on and after which the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection, (DEP) requires that all residential property sales include septic evaluations performed by a state certified system inspector. Contact the State DEP for a current list of inspectors who have been certified.

Massachusetts Title 5 Septic Law News Updates

01/15/2010 Updated links to Massachusetts Title 5 Septic Testing Law, Protocols, Procedures to include documents from the Massachusetts state government Title 5 site

9/16/96 Updated link to Mass. Info on the Web - see "More Information" below.

5/96 We're told that the state has made an exception for properties scheduled to be served by community sewer lines within five years.

9/20/95 Massachusetts News Reports today indicate that one out of four septic systems tested under the new law fail to meet acceptable standards of performance. Average repair costs range from $5400. to $7500. Source: NPR News.

8/2/95 Massachusetts News Reports today indicate that due to extreme costs to consumers to comply with the recent Title 5 Rules, the state is making changes to offer consumers some relief: homeowners whose old non-complying septics are shown to not be contaminating local groundwater will not be required to replace the system; some tax relief will be offered to homeowners who are required to make such replacements. Source: NPR News.

Additional Testing Required

Lenders are expected to require that all septic testing in MA conform to the new law. The new inspections exceed traditional visual inspections which are performed in many states. Because additional inspection is required, including excavation and pumping, septic inspection fees will probably reflect this new level of effort.

The inspector will have to locate wells and ground water sources on and near the property. The septic tank and distribution box will be opened and examined. Wells located within certain distances of the septic will have to be tested for bacteria and nitrates. Systems located within 50' of a well will fail to meet the requirements of the new law.

Standard Report Form

A new standard report form has been designed by the state. Contact the DEP or their website to obtain a current copy or use the links to the DEP forms at the bottom of this web page.

When are Septic System Inspections Required:

These inspections are required to be performed within nine months prior to the sale of a property; when freezing weather or other conditions restrict inspection, a six-months grace period may be allowed.

Quoting from the Mass Title5 Law:

When are on-site [septic] system inspections required?

In general:

  • When properties are sold, divided or combined.
  • When there is a change in use or an expansion of a facility.
  • When MassDEP or the local Board of Health requires an inspection.
  • Title 5 requires inspections for large systems, shared systems, and condominiums on a periodic basis.
  • Systems located in cities and towns with MassDEP-approved inspection programs are required to comply with local inspection requirements.

There are exceptions and nuances to the general requirements listed here. For example, no inspection is required if the owner has signed an enforceable agreement with the Board of Health to upgrade the system, connect to a sanitary sewer, or connect to a shared system within two years.

quoting from a more detailed document:

When is a [septic system] inspection required?

In general, Title 5 requires an inspection at the time of property transfer:

  • When a property is sold to new owners, or there otherwise is a transfer of title to new owners, with certain exceptions.
  • "Title 5 does not require a system inspection if the transfer is of residential real property, and is between the following relationships: (1) between current spouses; (2) between parents and their children; (3) between full siblings; and (4) where the grantor transfers the real property to be held in a revocable or irrevocable trust, where at least one of the designated beneficiaries is of the first degree of relationship to the grantor". [REF: MGL Ch21A s. 13]
  • When properties are divided or combined.
  • Even if there is not a sale or transfer of title, Title 5 requires an inspection when there is a change in use or an expansion of the facility. For example, conversion of a retail store to a restaurant requires an inspection.

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