Property Owners’ Responsibilities under the Ontario Building Code (OBC)

Rural property owners are also private wastewater management system operators. They don’t have the luxury of flushing and forgetting like their city cousins. This is because the solids that they do flush remain on their property (contained in their septic tank) and the resulting effluent is returned to the soil under their own septic leaching bed. Managing human waste is a big responsibility and the Ontario Building Code has something to say about how homeowners deal with it.

Section 10.1 of the Building Code Act specifies; “No person shall operate or maintain a sewage system or permit a sewage system to be operated or maintained except in accordance with this Act and the building code.”

The owner of the property where an onsite sewage system exists or will be installed is ultimately responsible for signing the application for a building permit which certifies that the information on the permit is correct. By signing the permit they are also ensuring that the proper site evaluation is completed and they are also confirming that the design of the system complies with all the appropriate regulations.

Property owners can assign their agency over to an installer or a designer to conduct the site evaluation, design the system and install it for the purposes of applying for and obtaining the required permit -but- this does not absolve the owner of their roles and responsibilities under Section 1.1. of the Act.

Under subsection 8.9.3. of the OBC , property owners shall:

  • maintain their system in accordance both on the basis on which the construction of the sewage system was approved and the operation and maintenance requirements of the manufacturer
  • maintain the land in the vicinity of their sewage system in a condition that will not cause damage to or impair the functioning of the sewage system

In addition, the septic tanks of conventional and advanced treatment systems must be cleaned (pumped) whenever sludge and scum (solids) occupy one-third of the working capacity of the tank. Not sure of the capacity of your tank? Call your local regulator to find out what they have on record for your system, ask your installer or ask your pumper.

Need some guidance to make sure you are Code compliant? Call us with your questions or check out our Homeowner Resources. Do the reading, have the conversations, get the work done and protect the environment and your home’s infrastructure. Be onsite proud!

Portions of this post were paraphrased from the OBOA’s “Ontario Building Code Course: Part 8 On-site Sewage Systems Participant Manual”