February 19, 2010

It would be a nightmare for any commercial or industrial landlord to find out that a tenant has vacated the premises and left behind drums, containers or tanks containing materials that are characterized as hazardous waste.  Proper management of hazardous wastes can be an expensive proposition.  State and local environmental agencies may get involved.  A landlord may need to consider hiring an environmental consultant to determine what to do with the wastes.  Sampling may be required.  The costs can add up very quickly.  A landlord needs to be very careful when dealing with hazardous wastes.  Penalties and potential criminal sanctions can apply if wastes are illegally stored or dumped.  Ignorance of the law is no excuse.  If the tenant has fled and left a mess behind, there may be some relief.

Minnesota law provides that property owners may be able to recover twice of the cost of cleanup of abandoned wastes.  To maintain a claim, the landlord needs to give the tenant notice, provide access to the premises and provide at least 30 days for the tenant to take responsibility for the abandoned waste.  A copy of the Minnesota law, Minnesota Statute Section 116.071 is found at:


At Hessian & McKasy, P.A. our environmental lawyers assist clients on all types of real estate and environmental matters.  Joseph Maternowski, Chair of the Environmental Law Attorney Practice Group at Hessian & McKasy, regularly advises clients on the purchase and sale of property that may be impacted by environmental concerns.  For information on Mr. Maternowski’s experience please see: https://www.enviroattorney.net/attorneys/josheph_g_maternowski.php.

The views expressed here are my own and do not reflect the views of my employer, Hessian & McKasy, P.A.


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