Kalkaska County Considering Getting Rid of Septic Tank Inspection Regulations During Home Sales

Septic tanks are backing things up in Kalkaska County, but not in the way you might think.

Local realtors, and some county commissioners have said that mandatory septic tank inspections during home sales impede business.

Coldwell Banker realtor Sean Riley says homeowners are required to front the $750 inspection fee to have an inspector make a report. That report is then verified by the department and county before coming back to the real estate agents. The process can often take weeks.

“My last three closings were all delayed by the well and septic [inspections],” said Riley. “When we have a seller that can’t move because we don’t have the report and when we have the buyer that can’t move because we don’t have the report that does affect real life.”

The septic tank inspection rule was enforced starting in 2008. But the rule exempts 11 kinds of situations from inspection, including if unoccupied properties, new homes, or property transfers between family members.

The county is considering getting rid of the inspection rule, and some commissioners have suggested having local municipalities take on that responsibility and regulatory committee instead.

Seth Phillips is a strong advocate for septic inspections. He’s an officer of the Manistee Lake Association and says the inspections ensure clean water and pollution prevention.

“There’s a lot of research throughout the state that shows improper septic systems are contaminating Michigan waters all over the state,” said Phillips. “That’s really what the debate has been about, is protecting the water resources of the county.”

Realtor Jeff Fitch says he also wants to protect the environment, but current laws impede business, and things need to change.

“There’s not as many inspectors, they seem to be going away,” said Fitch. “I think it should be the owner’s responsibility and the buyer; it’s a negotiating thing.”

Kalkaska county commissioners have not yet made a final decision but have a meeting next week.