Buyer experiencing septic woes believes seller is responsible for repairs

Q: I have a friend who purchased a home in 2019. He bought the home even though the home inspection found the property had a bad septic system.

Are the sellers responsible to fix/replace it? How long do they have to do so? The sellers said they would fix the septic system, but they have been avoiding my friend’s real estate agent. He figured they weren’t going to fix it and hasn’t heard from them since the closing.

Now it’s the middle of 2021, and he is wondering if there’s something else he could have done to make the sellers live up to their agreement to fix the septic system. Is there something he can still do now or is it too late?

A: Thanks for your question. We’re sorry the sellers of your friend’s home failed to live up to their agreement to fix the home’s septic system. You’ve asked what your friend should have done, and we have some suggestions on how the whole situation could have been handled better — suggestions we’ve shared with our readers over the years.

First, let’s start by acknowledging that septic system repairs can be awfully expensive. Many homeowners purchase homes without septic systems and may not understand what they are and why they are so expensive to maintain, repair and replace.

Usually, homeowners living in urban and suburban areas have plumbing systems that are tied to the local municipal water and sewer systems. In other words, you turn on a tap or flush a toilet and the local water and sewer systems handle the rest. With homes that are tied to local water and sewer systems, there’s no need for a well or septic system to handle water and waste.

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