Buying-Selling Property

St. Louis County Subsurface Sewage Treatment System (SSTS) Ordinance 61 requires that prior to the sale, transfer, contract for deed, or any other conveyance of land upon which a dwelling is located, or a tract of land upon which a structure that is required to have an SSTS, the following must be met:
 
    1. NO INSPECTION REQUIRED, if these Conditions are met:
  • A valid “Certificate of Compliance for a New-Replacement System” is on file and has been issued within the last 10 years.
  • A valid “Certificate of Compliance Existing System” is on file and has been issued within the last three (3) years.
  • A valid “Notice of Non-Conforming” is on file and has been issued within the last three (3) years

      A full list of exemptions can be found in the St. Louis County SSTS Ordinance 61.
 

   2. INSPECTION REQUIRED, if Conditions in #1 are not met: 
  • A septic compliance inspection and report can be obtained from a licensed SSTS Inspector. If the “Septic Compliance Report” indicates a passing septic system, then the property sale or transfer may proceed as normal so long as the county has a copy of that passing report and that the Certificate of Compliance – Existing or Notice of Conforming is issued.
              Step-by-Step Inspection Process
  1. Call Licensed Inspector: The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) maintains a list Click here. You also can get a list maintained by St. Louis County Click here.
  2. Site Inspection: Licensed inspector conducts site visit and determines septic condition.
  3. Inspection Report Submitted to County: Licensed inspector submits report to the county. Based upon the report, the County will issue the following: 
  • Compliant: A “Certificate of Compliance Existing System” is issued and is valid for three years. No other actions on your part necessary and proceed with the closing.
  • Notice of Nonconforming: A “Notice of Nonconforming” is issued and is valid for three years. No other actions on your part necessary and proceed with the closing.
  • Non-Compliant: If an inspection of the existing system identifies the system as Non-Compliant, a Notice of Non-Compliance” is issued. The system must be replaced within 12 months for shoreland property and 24 months for non-shoreland property.
If the replacement of a Non-Compliant system does not occur prior to closing, the responsible party is required to receive an estimate from a licensed MPCA contractor for the replacement of the system. St. Louis County requires that 100% of the replacement costs be held in an escrow account at the time of closing along with a completed and submitted Septic System Disclosure/Transfer Agreement, estimate, and escrow agreement to St. Louis County. 
or
Winter Sales: When a winter sale occurs, a Transfer agreement, estimate from a licensed septic contractor for the replacement of the system along with 100% escrow will be held at the time of closing; A compliance inspection is still a requirement when conditions allow.
  • Imminent Threat to Public Health (ITPH): A “Notice of Imminent Threat to Public Health” is issued. Repair or Replacement is due within 10 months.
If the replacement of an ITPH system does not occur prior to closing, the responsible party is required to receive an estimate from a licensed MPCA contractor for the replacement of the system. St. Louis County requires that 100% of the replacement costs be held in an escrow account at the time of closing along with a completed Septic System Disclosure/Transfer Agreement,
or
Winter Sales: When a winter sale occurs a Transfer agreement, estimate from a licensed septic contractor for the replacement of the system along with 100% escrow be held at the time of closing; A compliance inspection is still a requirement when conditions allow.
 
Note: Most Systems are in compliance. However, if your existing system is inspected and found to be noncompliant or an imminent threat to public health, it should be replaced prior to property transfer. If that doesn’t happen, an escrow account is required. Acting early gives you time to make necessary corrections before the sale or transfer.
Financial Assistance: St. Louis County offers different forms of financial assistance for septic owners. For more information, Click here.