What is Title V in hand referring to?

Asked by Brendan, Watertown, MA Fri Apr 2, 2010

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Matt Heisler, Agent, Westborough, MA
Sat Apr 3, 2010

Title V does mean that the system has passed current standards, but you should take the time to review the inspection, understand the system in place, and evaluate it, using local experts where necessary. You wouldn't buy a house without knowing if the roof is in good shape or not, and a septic system works the same way. Unlike a roof though, you can't "see" it, and I think it's this unknown quality of septic that gives buyers pause. It's an important - and expensive - system for you house, so you should carefully evaluate it. It's not necessarily straightforward either - "old" is not necessarily "bad" and "new" is not necessarily "good", although I have found that some people are quick to race to those determinations.

Matt Heisler is a real-estate professional and owner of Heisler & Mattson Properties. He has been selling residential real-estate for over 10 years. He has given several talks on real estate, including presentations on first-time buyer tips & tricks, and profiting in real estate investing in Massachusetts. As a Vanderbilt University alumnus, he is proud to serve the communities of Natick, Framingham, Medfield, Millis, Holliston, Hopkinton, Southborough, Westborough, Northborough, Grafton, Marlborough, Shrewsbury, Worcester, Milford, Charlton, Northbridge, Sutton, Hudson, Sudbury, , Clinton, Boylston, and West Boylston. His company website can be found at http://www.bjheisler.com, and his Metrowest Blog can be read at http://HomeSellingInMass.net.

*All information is posted in good faith and is assumed to be reliable, but may rely on third party information sources.
Web Reference:  http://www.bjheisler.com
0 votes
Jane Kontoff, Agent, Concord, MA
Wed May 21, 2014
"In hand" simply means that the seller has already retained a Title V certificate showing that the septic system has been inspected and that it is sound and found to be in working order. Sometimes a system will conditionally pass which means that the inspector found an issue that needs to be addressed but the system is working. The other result is a failed system.
1 vote
Territory.c…, Agent, MA,
Thu May 12, 2011
Short answer:
It means the property is on private sewer and the owner already had it inspected so they have the Title V inspection report in hand for the new home buyer.

Web Reference:  http://territory.com
1 vote
Michael Hunt…, Agent, Sudbury, MA
Fri Jul 9, 2010
Hi Brendan,
Title V is a state law designed to protect our drinking water. Whenever a property changes hands it needs to have the septic treatment system inspected for function and compliance with design standards. The inspector must be licensed and submits a "certificate of compliance" to the local board of health for public access. The board of health does nothing more than maintain a list of approved inspectors and keep the certificates in folders or on computers. When buying a property that has a septic system, have your home inspector review the "certificate" and give you their opinion if you should conduct your own inspection (it will be at your cost). For example, the law does not require that the system is pumped-out for an inspection, but a certificate without a pump-out might be of questionable value. As the cost to replace a system can run $8-14k if conventional or up to $35k if exotic, it's a major "buyer beware" item.
1 vote
Anna Glebova, , Newton, MA
Thu May 12, 2011
All great info here. Wanted to add, that yes, in MetroWest towns you can find both private and public septic system. It's is a mix in every town. The difference is, that if you have public sewer, you pay more for your water. Water usage is calculated on how much it'll cost to clean the amount of water you used, so it's more expensive. Hence it's more expensive to water your lawn and garden, if you don't use rain barrels for example. On the other hand, you don't have to deal with the hassle and expense of pumping and maintaining the sewer.

if you have private sewer system, your water bill is very low. People with private sewer opt for a swimming pool more often, than those with public one. You just need to pump the system regularly. There are also different opinions on how often you should pump, it depends on how many people are living in the house, and how much you use water and all. If you compost a lot, and don't have a disposal (generally, not recommended with a private sewer), you need to pump less often.
0 votes
Linda Bee, , Concord, MA
Wed Jul 14, 2010
Dear Brendan,

All of my collegues below have provided great information. Additionally - based on your particular circumstances you can visit the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Title 5 website to download forms, find out what the fees are, check on variances, etc. Here is their website:


If you need any assistance with this feel free to call.

Best Regards

Linda Bee
0 votes
Tom and Joan…, Agent, Boston, MA
Sun Jul 11, 2010

Mike gives some great information, but additionally Title V was passed into law in 1978 to protect banks. The banks were having issues where home owners were buying homes that had septic systems that were not functioning and then the new owners did not have the funds to repair the problem. Now all homes in MA that have a septic system are required to have a title V inspection if there is bank financing involved. You can convey a property without a title v if the deal is a cash transaction.

All the best and if you need further assistance please visit my website.
0 votes
Caroline Han…, , Sudbury, MA
Mon Apr 5, 2010
Title V in hand is a certificate that indicates the Seller has completed the state mandated testing of septic systems. This is a generally a Seller expense and must be completed prior to closing. It is a statement of condition at the time of inspection that the system is in satisfactory working order. It is not a guarantee of longevity for the system. Also, if a Seller has a Title V dated within 3 years of closing date this is also acceptable as long as the Seller has pumped the system each year for the previous 2 years. In other words, if you have a Title V completed at the time of listing your home for sale, you are not obligated to repeat this test as long as you pump it annually for subsequent two years following.
Sudbury & Wayland are all septic systems - surrounding towns also have them; though not exclusively.
Hope this helps!

Any other questions, please feel free to contact me:
Caroline Hanlon
Prudential Stephan Realtors
400 Boston Post Road
Sudbury, MA 01776
0 votes
Judy Boyle, Agent, Marlborough, MA
Sat Apr 3, 2010
Hi Brendan,

It looks like your question has been answered regarding "Title V". You can read more about it and learn about private septic systems...which are more common than not in Sudbury and many surrounding towns...by visiting the Massachusetts Government website at


I see you are from Watertown. My experience in working with consumers who have relocated from the city to the western suburbs is that they are intimidated by the thought of private septic...and private wells while we're at it!

My SHORT ANSWER is that there is no need for concern! Just think of the savings you will enjoy with NO sewer or water charges!!!!!

Feel free if you want to talk about it further!

Good luck!

Judy Boyle
RE/MAX Signature Properties
Marlborough, MA
0 votes
Tom Lynch, Agent, Great Barrington, MA
Fri Apr 2, 2010
Title V is a state regulation requiring the seller have the septic system inspected by a qualified septic inspector to ensure it meets current state standards. The health inspector for the town is typically there to sign off on the inspection.

If a seller has a Title V in hand, it means they have already had the septic system inspected and it Passed... thereby meeting current standards.


Tom Lynch
Associate Broker, Berkshire Property Agents
Great Barrington, Massachusetts 01230
0 votes
Yannis Tsits…, , 01742
Fri Apr 2, 2010
and by the law the seller has to provide a passing Title V report, or disclose that no Title V on hand or the septic is a failing system
0 votes
Janet Peters…, Agent, Carver, MA
Fri Apr 2, 2010
Title V in hand means that the septic system has been
Tested and has passed. Good for the buyer!
0 votes
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