September 25, 2010

Sellers of commercial and industrial property in the State of Washington must now disclose environmental conditions to buyers under a new state law.  The law, SB 6749, is patterned after disclosures required sales of residential property in Minnesota and many other states.  A copy of the Washington state law is found at: http://www.enviroattorney.net/articles/6749-S.pdf.

Sellers of commercial or industrial real estate in Washington state must complete a form and address environmental issues water rights, sewage systems, building and structural concerns, permits, and other environmental matters.  There are some straightforward questions such as whether the property has been subject to flooding, an earthquake or fire.  Other questions on the form require the Seller to disclose whether wetlands, floodplains, shore land or other the property conditions are present at a particular site.

There are several more open-ended questions which could be far more problematic for a Seller including:

– Is there soil or groundwater contamination on the property?

– Has the site been used as a legal or illegal dumping site?

– Are there any substances, materials or products in or on the property that may be environmental concerns such as asbestos, formaldehyde, radon gas, lead-based paint, fuel or chemical storage tanks, or contaminated soil or water?

A seller will need to take care when it completes the disclosure form.  Failure to disclose conditions may lead to liability for the seller.  It is possible that other states could follow Washington State’s lead and adopt similar disclosure requirements.

At Hessian & McKasy the environmental attorneys in the Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group advise clients on real estate and business transactions.  We assess potential liability arising out of past use of commercial and industrial property.  For information about the environmental lawyers who serve in Hessian & McKasy’s Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group, please visit: http://www.enviroattorney.net/attorneys/joseph_g_maternowski.php.

The views contained within this entry and on this website are my own and do not constitute those of Hessian & McKasy, a Professional Association.

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