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The Community Septic Management Loan Program (CSMLP), aimed at upgrading failed residential septic systems to Title 5 standards, was made possible by the enactment of the Open Space Bond Bill of 1996. This law appropriated $30 million to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to assist qualified homeowners in defraying the cost of complying with Title 5 regulations. In turn, MassDEP used this appropriation to fund loans through the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (MCWT).

For over 15 years, the Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment has administered the CSMLP on behalf of all 15 Cape Cod towns. As a way of streamlining the program, Barnstable County secured special legislation in 2006 allowing CSMLP to borrow money directly from the MCWT. To date, CSMLP has provided over $52.5 million in loans for over 4,550 septic system repairs, including sewer hook-ups. The interest rate charged to homeowners remains at 5% as does the 20-year repayment term. Program funds from the state remain available into the foreseeable future, allowing CSMLP to continue providing an effective and efficient means of assisting area residents with often cost-prohibitive yet essential septic system requirements.

Program specifics include the following:

  • Existing septic system must be “failed”.
  • All costs directly associated with carrying out a project required by Title 5 are eligible.
  • Eligible projects include alternative septic systems and sewer hook-ups.
  • Reimbursement for costs directly associated with the project up to 30 days prior to the receipt and approval of a completed application by Barnstable County is possible.
  • 5% interest rate on loan.
  • Betterment assessment on property secures loan.
  • Maximum of 20-year repayment term.
  • Payments are made monthly, payable to Barnstable County.
  • Loans to be made only for residential properties.
  • Residential properties include condominiums and apartments.
  • Homeowner obtains written bids for system design then contracts for work.
  • Homeowner obtains written bids for system installation then contracts for work.
  • Payments are made directly to contractors.
  • Certificate of Compliance must be issued before final payment is made.

It is important to note that the CSMLP is self-supporting through interest earned from loan program enrollment, thus saving taxpayers all operation costs including staff salaries for the administrator and program assistants. Additional savings include all associated legal expenses such as title searches and recording fees at the Registry of Deeds.

Frequently Asked Questions

If the residential property has a failed septic system, you can usually be approved for a loan.

Primary as well as secondary residences, condominiums and apartment buildings are some of the types of properties covered.

Conventional septic systems, alternative septic systems and sewer hook-ups are covered.

This is a septic system that meets either state or local definitions for failure including non-compliant systems.

Frequent pumping, liquid at the surface, gurgling sounds or slow drainage of sinks, shower, or toilets and especially liquid flowing back into your basement are symptoms indicative of a failed septic system.

It covers all work directly relating to the upgrade of a failed residential septic system. This includes the design of the upgrade and the installation of the new components. Also, incidental work associated with this project (e.g. loaming and seeding after work completion, repair to a driveway damaged during construction, plumbing changes required because of the upgrade, town water hook-up or well relocation required because of the septic system upgrade, etc.) are generally covered.

An original completed application, signed and dated, along with a signed and dated copy of your most recent 1040 Federal Tax Return and your most recent mortgage statement is required at a minimum. If you do not file a Federal Tax Return, evidence of sources of income (e.g. Social Security benefits, pension benefits, etc.) should be submitted along with your application.

Once we are in receipt of all required information, you can be approved for a loan within 24 hours.

This pertains to a reference for where your deed was recorded at the Registry of Deeds. Book and page refers to recorded land while the document number refers to land court or registered land. If you do not have this information available, we will obtain it once the application is submitted.

This is the parcel identification information obtained from your local property tax bill. If you can not find this number, we will obtain it for you once the application is submitted.

Depending on the exact circumstances of your situation, you should either obtain bids from a designer if no plans for your upgrade exist or an installer if plans are available.

This decision is up to the homeowner. We recommend 3 bids, however this is not a requirement. You should obtain as many bids as you feel are necessary in order to obtain a competitive bid. Once you receive bids, you should forward copies of them to us for review.

We will prepare a Betterment Agreement for you to sign. Once signed in the presence of a notary public, we will be able to pay contractors for septic system related work.

The homeowner should not pay for any work if they expect to be reimbursed. Instead, an original invoice indicating a balance due should be sent to us for processing.

All invoices must be original. An e-mailed invoice is also acceptable.

Reimbursement for costs associated with the septic system repair project up to 30 days prior to the approval of a completed application is possible, but not guaranteed.

You will be billed directly by Barnstable County and you will make payment on a monthly basis directly to Barnstable County

At present monthly payments are made online via our website or by check. The annual interest rate is 5%.

The maximum term is 20 years.

By law, the interest rate will increase from 5% to 14%. Your account will return to 5% if past due principal and interest payments become current.

You must make the minimum payment due in order to avoid a penalty. However, you can pay more than the minimum and this amount will be credited to your outstanding principal thereby reducing your total interest payment. Also, if you pay your loan off within one year of receipt of your first payment, we will charge you $400.00, the minimum amount required to cover our operating costs.

There is a tax credit available for primary residence property owners. You should contact the state Department of Revenue with questions and to obtain Schedule SC necessary in order to obtain the credit.

Barnstable County records a Notice of Betterment Assessment at the Barnstable Registry of Deeds for the amount borrowed.

A Certificate for Dissolving Betterments will be prepared following your final payment. Please note that their will be only one original Certificate prepared. It will need to be recorded by you or your representative at the Registry of Deeds to indicate payment in full of the loan. The cost of recordation is your responsibility.

If the owner sells or transfers the property, whether voluntarily or involuntarily, the unpaid balance of principal and interest shall become due and payable to the County, unless the County has agreed in writing to permit the buyer or transferee of the property to assume the obligation to pay the unpaid balance. Generally speaking, however, the lender for the purchaser of the property will typically require that the County loan be paid in full so that an assumption of the outstanding obligation may not be an option.

The simple answer is no. Betterments are a tax and taxes, whether federal, state or local cannot be subordinated to existing or new mortgages.

There is no anticipated shortage of funding for this program.

Contact Information

Angela Do Carmo, Administrative Assistant

Cinthia Madden, Billing/Collection Specialist