Morgan Hill Sewer Lateral Inspection Ordinance

The health of a community and its environment is highly dependent on its sewer system’s efficiency. In this article, we uncover the in-depth details of Morgan Hill sewer lateral inspections, the importance of maintaining the private sewer lateral, the process involved in real estate transactions, and the potential costs arising from sewer lateral damages. This guide will provide a comprehensive understanding of the inspection and repair program, along with the regulatory requirements and procedures related to private sewer laterals.

Understanding Private Sewer Lateral

A private sewer lateral (PSL) is a pipeline responsible for transporting wastewater from a residence or building to the city’s main sewer line. Every toilet, shower, urinal, or any other output source in a house contributes to the wastewater that this privately-owned pipe collects and transports. The PSL typically starts from the exterior of the house, travels underground through the yard, under sidewalks and sometimes streets, before finally connecting to the city sewer main. The entirety of the PSL, including its maintenance, is the responsibility of the property owner.

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The Importance of PSL Inspection and Repair

The inspection and repair of sewer lateral lines are crucial to prevent sewage overflows, which can cause significant environmental and health issues. Stormwater intrusion into the sewer lines can lead to overflows that can contaminate local water bodies and compromise drinking water quality. These overflows have historically caused problems for cities, and continuous efforts are being made to find solutions.

Regulatory Requirements in Morgan Hill

In certain counties, like Morgan Hill in California, it is mandatory to inspect the PSL prior to any property transactions. This law is applicable to properties that are more than 15 years old. However, if the property was constructed in 2008 or later, this inspection is not required. Starting from 2024, an exemption will be provided for properties constructed in 2009 or later, and the exemption date will be updated annually following this pattern.

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Process Before Property Sale

The seller of the property is responsible for getting the inspection done by a qualified plumbing contractor who is licensed with the State of California, carries a Morgan Hill Business License, and is certified by NASSCO.

If the Sewer Lateral Passes the Inspection

If the PSL passes the inspection, the following steps are followed:

  1. The completed Inspection Form is emailed to the city administration.
  2. City officials review and verify the information.
  3. Upon verification, the city issues a Certificate of Compliance within five business days.
  4. The buyer submits the Certificate of Compliance when applying to start water services with the Utility Billing Department.

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If the Inspection Fails

If the PSL doesn’t pass the inspection, the deficiencies must be repaired before the property transaction can be completed. Once the repairs are made, a new inspection must be conducted by a qualified plumbing contractor. The new inspection report is then emailed to the city administration, and upon verification, a Certificate of Compliance is issued.

Option to Transfer Responsibility to Repair

If an inspection fails, the seller can transfer the responsibility for repairing the PSL to the buyer, given both parties agree. Under such circumstances, the seller is responsible for conducting the initial inspection, while the buyer must complete the repairs within 180 days of the utility service being turned on.

Potential Costs

The cost of inspecting private sewer laterals may range between $300-$800, depending on the contractor chosen. If the PSL cannot be accessed, it may be necessary to install a new cleanout pipe, which can range from $2,000 to $4,000, plus the inspection cost. Fixing serious structural or operational defects can vary widely in cost, with a full lateral replacement, including a new clean-out, costing on average between $10,000 – $15,000.


Navigating the complexities of sewer lateral inspections and repairs can be daunting for property owners and prospective buyers. However, understanding these processes can help prevent unexpected costs and delays in property transactions. Always work with a trusted real estate professional to ensure a smooth and successful transaction.

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Seb Frey helps long-time Bay Area homeowners make their next move easily the next one yet. If you're looking for a minimum of hassle, maximum net cash on sale, and certain results, contact Seb today.