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Potential Septic System Upgrade Requirement for Property Transfers in Shelter Island

By now, nearly all East End realtors are aware of Suffolk County and local laws requiring upgrades of septic systems to more technologically advanced – and more expensive (about $20,000 before rebates), on-site wastewater treatment systems. These systems significantly reduce the amount of nitrogen and nitrates that ultimately find their way into well water and local waterways. Such regulations have already been enacted in East Hampton Town, which requires these systems for all new construction, and similar proposals are being discussed in Sag Harbor Village and East Hampton Village.

Although Shelter Island Town already has a law requiring the upgraded systems for all new construction with living area greater than 1,500 square feet (which basically translates to almost every type of new construction), the town board is now considering a law that would force existing homeowners to upgrade the existing septic system upon any transfer of real estate. The Town Board still has not decided if the law would apply to just sales, or to all types of real estate transfers, and it is still an open question as to whether the seller or buyer will bear the cost. Whatever the outcome, the new law will likely be a major consideration for sellers and buyers of real estate on Shelter Island.

Because of the potentially high cost and perceived hassle of upgrading to the new system, it’s important for all realtors with active listings and customers in Shelter Island to stay abreast of the news on this issue and to advise their customers of the potential risk that an unexpected major capital improvement may be in their not so distant future.