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Environmental Issues In Real Estat

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Autor:   •  July 11, 2011  •  2,146 Words (9 Pages)  •  800 Views

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nvironmental issues are a major concern in the status quo especially as land is becoming more limited and businesses are redeveloping on used land. These concerns arise in all types of real estate transactions; from the individual residences to large commercial facilities. Although the financial risks involved in these transactions are manageable, if environmental issues are not properly identified and mangaged prior to the property transaction, the owner may unknowingly assume substantial property liabilities in the longrun. Environmental issues can occur within the property site as well as from other parties. These concerns include land contamination, mold, asbestos and even cases of radon.

One of the biggest environmental concerns is land contamination. Land contamination includes pollution caused by human activities such as inappropriate trash disposal. However, the vast majority of land contamination is a result of industries dumping a variety of chemicals into soil or water. For example, the chemicals in soil may affect plants grown on the land and chemical releases to water may make the water unsuitable for drinking or used in industry production. This issue receives a large amount of attention in any real estate transaction because contamination may result from that specific site or from the flows of other sites. Locating the source of such land contamination is imperative because it results in the extent of liabilities for the site owners. If the contamination results from outside sources and other facilities, then the site owner bears a lesser liability as oppose to land contamination originating directly from the site. Additionally, identifying the source enables appropriate allocation of responsibilities in order to refurbish the site. Land contamination assessment is particularly important in areas near drinking water supply wells or individual residences. For this reason, land contamination is one of the most hazardous problems involved with real estate transaction.

Mold contamination has also become an increasing concern in real estate transactions. Mold contamination generally arises in buildings that have been poorly constructed or lack adequate ventilation. Molds can form in air circulation systems as well as inside of walls. If there is moisture, these molds can severely damage the building structure. In addition to that, molds can be extremely toxic to our health. There are certain molds that can cause serious medical conditions and several-high profile lawsuits have been won in favor of repairing personal injuries to those harmed by molds. The most common response to mold exposure is allergy. These allergic reactions may vary from mild skin irritation to severe respiratory damages depending on whether a person is atopic or not. Additionally, odors produced by the molds may also affect individuals. Due to the recent spurs of mold contamination, insurance companies have paid close attention to any possibilities of mold formation due to its ability to dengerate the property as well as cause personal injuries.

Under current environmental regulations, the "owner" and "operator" of contaminated property are subject to "narrow defenses." That means in most cases, the owners are liable to the government for clean-up costs even if the conditions were caused by another property or former owner. However, in some cases the government may choose to divide the costs between parties depending on how strong a defense stands.

Another environmental issue facing old properties is the presence of asbestos. Asbestos is less common than mold contamination and land contamination because it usually develops in commericial and industrial buldings. It originates from an insulating material in pipes and boiler rooms, in flooring and in roof shingles. Even though it is more of a problem for industrial and commercial buildings, it may also exist in many old residential properties. Once asbestos occur, the price to elimate it can be extremely pricy. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that any potential asbestos problems are identified and the liability for dealing with these problems is allocated properly prior to the closing of any real estate properties.

One type of environmental issue which effects real estate properties that deserves special attention is the presence of radon. Radon is a potential contaminant that has been discovered later than most environmental issues. Due to its colorless and odorless nature, it is difficult to track the presence of this dangerous radioactive gas. Radon can enter structures through the water and the air, which means it is more of a concern for buildings located near a body of water. Over the years, it has become increasingly common in residential real estate transactions to have the air and water tested for the presence of radon. A unique feature about radon contamination is that there is no uniform standards of governing the "safe" level of radon in the environment, there are only some guidelines that may be useful for evaluating the extent of the problem. This is due to the fact that radon, to an extent, has not been fully researched. In most cases, before a closing of a property, there will be sampling in order to confirm the presence or absence of radon.

In many old residential properties, lead painting is a major environmental concern. Lead painting is extremely dangerous both inside the property as well as outside the property. Young children are especially susceptible to lead- related injuries within the resident because they are prone to ingest lead paint chips that fall off the walls. Moreover, if lead painting exists on the outside of the house, it can potentially contaminate the soil around the property. This problem becomes especially important for those who wishes to plant vegetables in their gardens, for they are ultimately consuming a deathly substance.

These environmental issues can exist in any type of site. However, the most dangerous site is one of a former gasoline station, which can have petroleum in the underground soil and underwater from leakage associated with underground tanks. Additinally, the oil, solvents from cleaning of engines, metals and acids can also greatly affect the soil in that environment. There are other types of sites that may have these harmful underground tanks as well. These sites include airports, farms, trucking companies, vehicle repair, dry cleaners, etc.

There are numerous tools that can be used to manage all the environmental problems discussed above. However, before any of these problems can be solved, it is important to identify all potential risks. In order to make accurate judgements regarding the evironmental issues that surround the property, an environmental


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