Home Septic Inspection: Should Seller Pay?

Q: My husband and I are selling our home and we have a septic system. The buyers brought a septic system inspector to the property and he dug up the lid to the first tank.

He is now telling us that we have to give him access to the second holding tank for him to inspect.

The buyer has asked us to pay for digging up the lid to the second septic tank. The only reason this is being inspected is because the buyer wants it. Is it our responsibility to pay for this?

We would ask our Realtor to handle the situation, but we are so unhappy with him. He has done nothing for us, and I don’t know where to turn any more. If it was not for me getting multiple sclerosis, we would still be staying in this beautiful home of ours.

A: I’m sorry about your diagnosis of MS. It is unfortunate that you cannot stay in a home you obviously love.

Here’s the bottom line: If you don’t want to give anyone access to the second septic tank, you don’t have to. If you don’t want to pay for this inspection, you don’t have to. If you’re unhappy with your real estate agent, go to the managing broker of the firm and register a complaint and ask to have a new agent assigned to you.

Your listing agreement is with the company, not the specific agent. Perhaps a better agent could help you through this difficult deal.

My guess is that your sadness at your diagnosis and the fact that your medical condition is forcing you to sell have tinged your feelings regarding the sale of your property. Try to take a step back and think about what you can do to make your life easier, and less stressful.

With that in mind, let’s look at the reasons why you might want to help your buyer. The buyer wants to inspect the tanks to make sure that there is no problem with the septic system. If there is a problem, the buyer will want to know what kind of expense he or she is facing. If the buyer doesn’t inspect the tanks, the buyer may not buy the home.

The only issue here is who is supposed to pay for the inspection.

In some parts of the country, septic inspections are paid for by the sellers and in others, the buyers have to do their own inspections. Your purchase contract may provide you some assistance. If your contract states that the buyer must perform and pay for the inspection, it should be at their expense. You may want to talk to your attorney, if you are using one, to get some assistance in reviewing the contract. If you don’t have an attorney, you may want to talk to one.

June 13, 2006.


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