Who is Responsible for Septic Tank Maintenance?

Person doing septic system maintenance

We were recently asked a question by a renter in Ohio about their obligations for maintaining the septic system on the property they rent. We thought it would be a clever idea to cover the basics of who is legally responsible for maintaining a septic system. As always you can count on Supeck Septic Services as a property owner, or a renter in Ohio.

Ohio Rules and Regulations for Septic Maintenance.

There are different rules for septic systems in different states. There are also national regulations that owners of septic tanks must comply with. In the State of Ohio for instance the state legislation can pass new rules and regulations as they see fit.  To stay up to date with state regulations in Ohio you can view the rules here; https://codes.ohio.gov/ohio-administrative-code/chapter-3701-29.

Owners’ Responsibilities:

In the State of Ohio the property owner is responsible for maintaining a septic tank. The owner of the system (homeowner, property owner, homeowner’s association, or other responsible management entity) is responsible for the overall operation, maintenance, and upkeep. Which includes any required repairs or parts replacements.

Property owners should include information about the septic system in the lease agreement for the tenants. It does not matter if it is a long-term rental or a short-term agreement. This ensures that tenants understand their responsibility to maintain the septic system. You can even include guidelines as part of the rental agreement. For instance, the EPA has published a series of videos and documents that you can download for your renters to understand the best practices for septic system use.

Renters Responsibility:

The system users otherwise known as the “occupants” or “tenants” are responsible for the proper use of the system. This may require some education by the owner of the property with literature and best practices.

It is important to make sure as the renter you know your financial responsibilities for the property that you are renting. Renting a property with a septic system is different from a property with city sewage as it is a closed system. It isn’t like flushing bad stuff down a toilet that makes it way to the city managed lines.  What happens in the septic system stays in the septic system. That is why it is so important to know what you are getting into as a renter of a property with a septic system. You must be more careful.

It is always a good idea to understand the workings of the septic system on the property you are renting.  You can ask things like:

  • When was the tank last inspected?
  • When was the septic tank last pumped?
  • Do you have the number of the septic system company you use on hand if we have an emergency?
  • What are our obligations as tenants to maintaining the septic tank?

EPA developed the New Homebuyer’s Brochure and Guide to Septic Systems to help the occupants of a property with a septic system better understand  how to maintain it.  Here is a downloadable checklist for renters.

When Should A Septic Tank Be Pumped?

A septic tank should be inspected every 1 to 3 years and pumped every 3 to 5 years. Keep in mind that is an average. The actual needs are going to depend on t he size of the septic tank, the number of people using the septic system, and the amount of water that is used.  All these factors can vary from tenant to tenant on a rental property. So it is important that both the owners and the tenants know the signs of when a septic tank should be pumped. We have some articles on that topic.

Related Articles on Septic System Maintenance Include:

Where can I find State Requirements for Septic Systems

While there are federal guidelines for septic systems, home and property owners are regulated by the State of Ohio. They are not directly subject to federal guidelines. It is important that both owners and tenants understand what is required of them to be compliant. Compliance is not only requested, but also the law in the State of Ohio.

Call Supeck Septic Systems with Questions

Both property owners and tenants can call Supeck Septic Services. Our team of experts can help you determine the best course of action to take for your septic system concerns. That is what we have been doing in Northeast Ohio since 1968. We know septic systems and our team has heard it all.  It is our pleasure to help, even in an emergency. That is what we do. Contact us today with questions or to learn more about our septic system maintenance programs.