Time of Transfer

Each property in Hardin County which is served by a private septic system is required to have the system inspected prior to the sale or deed transfer for any home/building.

"The purpose of the law is to eliminate sub-standard or polluting septic systems." - Iowa DNR

If the septic tank does not have a secondary treatment system following it, such as a leach field or sand filter, the system will automatically fail inspection. Otherwise, if the system is not properly treating the wastewater, which is determined by the inspection report and the Sanitarian's interpretation of said report, the system may fail or require updating.

Getting an Inspection

To start the inspection process, you will need to contact a Certified Time of Transfer Inspector. You can find a List of Certified Time of Transfer Inspectors (PDF) on the Iowa DNR website. The inspector you choose can be/work from any county in Iowa. Once the inspection is finished, the inspector will send the results to the Sanitarian. The Sanitarian will then read the report and determine whether the system passes or fails inspection.

IMPORTANT: Make sure that you get the inspection done in plenty of time for upgrades to be made to the system - even if you "know" that your system is going to pass. Get your inspection done well in advance of your closing date, at least two weeks.


There are certain exceptions, under which circumstances a Time of Transfer inspection can be waived. A few of the exceptions are listed below, and the rest can be found on this list provided by the Iowa DNR (PDF):

  • A transfer between joint tenants or tenants in common
  • A transfer made to a spouse or to a person in the lineal line of consanguinity of a person making the transfer
  • A tax sale deed issued by the county treasurer
  • A transfer for which consideration is $500 or less

Binding Agreements

There are certain circumstances under which we allow delay of installation or inspection of a septic system. These are uncommon, and it should not be assumed that you qualify without confirming with the Sanitarian. Please find a description of each below.

  1. Future Installation
  2. Future Inspection
  3. Building Demolition
An agreement for future installation would allow a replacement or repair to a septic system to occur after the property has been transferred to the buyer. This is highly uncommon, and virtually the only circumstance which would allow for this is weather limitations. Taking too long to have the inspection completed and finding out the system needs replaced the day before closing does not qualify.