Since 2008, Washington state law and Island County code have required that all septic systems be inspected at the time of property transfer. Island County code requires these inspections to be completed by an Island County Licensed Maintenance Service Provider. Real estate professionals need to inform both the buyer and seller of this requirement.
Recommendations to follow when closing a sale:
If your client is the seller, they have a responsibility to have the septic system inspected before closing. If the septic system is an alternative system and has had an inspection within the past year it is considered in compliance. If the system is a conventional pressure or conventional gravity system and it has had an inspection within the past three years it is within compliance. However, it is recommended the inspection be done near the time an offer is made. The inspection must be done by an Island County Licensed Maintenance Service Provider.
If your client is the buyer, they have the right to see a completed Island County Public Health Department On-Site Sewage Inspection Report. The reports can be found on OnlineRME and should be provided prior to closing and preferably at the time the buyer makes an offer on the property. These reports will indicate if the septic system is working acceptably, if corrections are needed, or if the septic system is in a state of failure. If corrections are needed or the system is a failure, it is up to the seller and buyer to negotiate the terms of the repair. A home cannot be occupied until the septic system is functional.
Prior to doing the inspection, a septic system asbuilt can be obtained online at the SmartGOV Public Portal. As per RCW 64.06, failure to have the onsite sewage system inspected at the time of property transfer puts the real estate professional at risk for liability if a problem with the system arises.
In addition, Island County Public Health does not set prices for professionals and their inspections. Fees for inspections vary from professional and system type, travel and how much searching and digging is needed to find the system. Costs vary from $100-$500. We recommend contacting the Licensed Maintenance Service Providers directly for quotes.
Homebuyer's Guide to Septic Systems
Island County - Permits and Forms
RCW 64.06 - Real property transfers - seller's disclosures