The Continuing Saga of the TOT
📰Previous Article: WHAT IS LEELANAU COUNTY'S TOT ORDINANCE
So, as mentioned before the TOT has some variations from other POS ordinances, primarily the TOT tests can only be performed by county employees, and samples of water tests must be hand delivered by said employee to the water testing lab(s). If the water test fails it is incumbent upon the county inspector to decide the proper course of remediation, whether he has any “in-depth” knowledge or experience of the same. The central premise to this is that the tests must be completed and the septic and well approved prior to any Transfer of Title- (aka sale) of the property. And it is from this action that the county developed their handy acronym The TOT. The implication being that this must be done to complete the Transfer of Title. Personally, I think it should be called the Pre-TOT because one can’t be having water tested at the Time of Transfer- that must be done before, hence Pre-TOT.
The TOT program was not rolled out well (no pun intended). There was little notice to anyone other than the realtor® community. This means that buyers are not aware and even when their realtors® make them aware impatient buyers are often not willing to wait, threatening to terminate their contract or even attempt to hold the seller in breach. Although, for most sellers in this area there is typically another buyer or 2 or 10 right behind the current buyer problems with wells and septics can tamp down the general enthusiasm and significantly slow the process. In the instance of a seller time really is money. The longer a seller holds a property the more carrying costs they incur which are recoverable only to a very small extent. The seller will continue to pay interest on a loan if he has one, property taxes, which will be pro-rated to reflect the amount of time he had use and enjoyment of the property and of course utilities. Add to that the fees associated with the water and sewer tests, not to mention if either system is failing.
What brings me to writing of all of this is a specific property- a house- that I listed for a friend in the late summer. He was very proactive and had the TOT tests performed before he even called me. The septic test came back fine, the field was in good shape and the tank did not even require pumping. The water was a whole different story. The water failed with a positive read for coliform bacteria, so they took another test to the only other lab in the area and it failed too. The inspector helpfully suggested that my seller bleach his well- no information on how to do it-no state of MI pamphlet- just bleach the well. My client had no idea how to do it but tried his best and we got 2 more failed water tests including one now showing e-coli and coliform bacteria. I suggested we call a licensed well driller at this point, which we did. We selected a company that has been in the well-drilling business for multiple generations and has only the best reviews. They are licensed through the state of MI and well respected. The well company came out and cleaned the well, and the pump and chlorinated. The well driller then took a water sample and dropped it off to be tested. That sample revealed no contamination- no coliform – no e-coli. Buyer and Seller were very happy- until the county investigator told us the test “didn’t count,” because he didn’t draw the sample and deliver it to the test facility.