What Is Leelanau County's TOT Ordinance

What Is Leelanau County's TOT Ordinance

  • 11/29/23

What Is Leelanau County's TOT Ordinance?

TOT? As in Toys for Tots 🧸, but not. In Leelanau County TOT stands for Time of Transfer, not quite as seasonally correct; it is a year-round ordinance that is shaping up to be a headache for many sellers of real property and their real estate brokers. Although modeled after the much better-known POS (Point Of Sale) which is an ordinance in many rural Northern Michigan communities, the TOT has some peculiarities all its own.

Both the TOT and the POS seek to protect us from public health risks that can be the result of failing
sewage systems and contaminated wells. These ordinances were necessitated by the fact that the state
of Michigan has no requirement for routine inspections of septic systems and testing of water from
private wells. You might want to read that again; we are the only state in the United States that does
not have a statewide mandate for routine testing. Forty-nine out of fifty states have laws requiring
regular inspection of septic tank systems. So, county by county a hodge-podge of local ordinances has been enacted to pick up where the state left off. These ordinances require that any would-be seller of property in the jurisdiction which has well or septic or both, produce documents showing that the water is free from contamination and the septic system is in good working condition, prior to selling the property and transferring title to the buyer.


In most of the POS counties, the requirement is that the seller have a licensed sanitarian and/or a well
driller complete a thorough inspection of the septic system and issue a document stating that the
system is functioning. If the licensed entity finds problems with the septic system it is incumbent upon
the seller to effect repairs that render the system in good working order. Water samples are taken from the house and sent to state licensed water testing lab. If the lab test comes back with contamination the seller must follow the recommendations of the sanitarian or well driller and then retest to ensure that water is safe. This is where the TOT and the POS differ and where the fun begins!

Next Up

In my next post, I'll discuss the complexity of TOT and how it complicates real estate transactions. 😦


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