Transfer of Title

TOT House and Hands ImageWhat is a transfer of title? 

Transfer of title refers to the sale of property that is served by an On-Site Wastewater Treatment System (OWTS, popularly referred to as a septic system). In a transfer of title, responsibility for maintenance and operation of the OWTS transfers from a seller to a buyer along with ownership of the property.  

What is the transfer of title inspection requirement? 

Most OWTS that are involved in a transfer of title in Archuleta County will need to be inspected by a certified inspector to identify any malfunctions and confirm the system configuration. These inspection reports must be submitted to Archuleta County Water Quality Department (ACWQ) so ACWQ can issue an Acceptance Document for the transfer. Transferring most property with an OWTS without an Acceptance Document will be illegal and subject to enforcement. This program was adopted in January 2019.  

Why was this requirement introduced? 

Malfunctioning OWTS are a serious risk to drinking water and surface water quality. Transfer of title inspections provide a route to discover and repair failing and inadequate systems before they can make people sick. The sale of the property is the perfect time to perform these inspections, because it gives buyers and sellers peace of mind that the system is properly permitted and functioning properly.

Transfer of Title (TOT) Process                   TOT Flow Chart                   TOT Process Checklist 

1.A. Before listing the property for sale, click here to download a copy of your existing septic system permit issued previously from San Juan Basin Public Health Department. Check the approved use (including the permitted number of dwellings and bedrooms) and look for a final signature at the bottom or bottom-right of the permit (usually under "this system has been inspected and found to conform to the above requirements" or similar language). Permits were first required in 1967 and older homes may be served by unpermitted systems that still need inspection. Confirm that the permitted number of dwellings and bedrooms matches what is found on what the County Assessor has on file for this property.

NOTE: Transfer of Title Acceptance Documents will only be issued for properties served by a permitted OWTS, unless the OWTS on the property clearly predates the OWTS permitting program adopted by the Board of Health in 1967. Property owners with an unpermitted OWTS must apply for a permit for the system prior to applying for a Transfer of Title Acceptance Document

BConfirm the age of the OWTS. If age is under 4 years, and the closing date of the property fell in that that 4 year period, the system may be exempt from the Transfer of Title Inspections Requirement. This includes finalized repair and alteration permits with components older than four years. This does not include change of use permits.

NOTE: some buyers’ agents will add the TOT as a requirement, regardless of the age of the system

2.A. If the system is properly permitted, have the system inspected by a third-party NAWT certified inspector (see our Courtesy List of Local Inspectors)

  • Have NAWT inspector complete the Transfer of Title Inspection Report
  • At least two weeks before your expected closing date, complete the Transfer of Title Application for a TOT Acceptance Document
  • Pay the administrative fee for the TOT Acceptance Document
  • ACWQ will need several business days to issue the Acceptance Document and it can be emailed

B. If the system is not properly permitted, or fails inspection, you must apply for the proper                 permit(see permitting information) to repair, expand or change the use of the system 

  • If there are only minor repairs(IE: adding risers, fencing, tank lids or inspection ports) or         maintenance needed, have the maintenance or repair done by a qualified professional and submit documentation along with your application for a TOT Acceptance Document.

C. If the repairs can’t be performed before the closing or the inspection can’t be completed prior to the closing, there are Conditional TOT forms available to both the inspector and/or buyer depending on the situation and if the buyer will agree to the Conditions. These forms must be notarized.

Agreement to Inspect

Agreement to Repair or Alter

3. There are some types of transactions that are exempt from the TOT requirements:

  • The change in ownership is not an arm’s length transaction. Examples of non-arm’s length transactions include, but are not limited to, transfers between family members, parents and children, and estate transactions between a spouse, parent, or child.
  • The change in ownership is creating or ending a joint ownership if at least one person is an original owner of the property and/or the spouse, parent, or child of an original property owner
  • The transfer of property is to a trust in the same name as the original owner, or to a limited liability company, if the original owner is one of the directors of the limited liability company.
  • The property owner has obtained a repair or alteration permit for the OWTS which has not expired, and the requirement to complete the repairs has been disclosed to the person acquiring title to the property.
  • The transfer is a result of a foreclosure or forfeiture. However, the subsequent transfer from the foreclosing entity does require inspection and a TOT Acceptance Document