Check out risks of con­tam­i­na­tion be­fore mak­ing pur­chase

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY - John Rob­son

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties are now un­der a duty to iden­tify and in­spect sites that pose a se­ri­ous risk of be­ing con­tam­i­nated and can is­sue no­tices to de­vel­op­ers to carry out costly re­me­di­a­tion works.

In the ab­sence of an agree­ment to carry out the re­me­di­a­tion work the site will be re­garded as “Spe­cial” and the power to en­force the cleanup op­er­a­tion falls to the En­vi­ron­ment Agency.

There are es­sen­tially two classes of li­able bod­ies – Class A is the per­son or body (usu­ally the de­vel­oper) who know­ingly con­tam­i­nate or fail to re­me­di­ate the land and Class B is the per­son who owns or oc­cu­pies the land. Class B ex­tends to a mort­gage lender who has taken pos­ses­sion of a prop­erty.

In all pur­chase trans­ac­tions our firm’s pol­icy is to ob­tain an En­vi­ron­men­tal Search on be­half of our buyer clients.

This search is avail­able on­line from a num­ber of search sup­pli­ers.

Th­ese searches gather his­toric land use data and an­a­lyse the same to pro­duce ei­ther a Passed” or “Re­ferred” re­sult. If the later a “Fur­ther Ac­tion” or sim­i­lar state­ment will be is­sued to the con­veyancer which then re­veals there is a po­ten­tial land con­tam­i­na­tion is­sue.

In June 2001 the Law So­ci­ety pro­duced a Green Card to con­veyancers de­tail­ing guide­lines and due dili­gence to be fol­lowed in both res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial prop­erty pur­chase and mort­gage trans­ac­tions.

In short con­veyancers must: ad­vise of any po­ten­tial li­a­bil­i­ties as­so­ci­ated with Con­tam­i­nated Land and to as­sess the risks; en­quire of the statu­tory and reg­u­la­tory bod­ies; ob­tain a site his­tory in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port from a pro­fes­sional com­pany; ob­tain a land soil test re­port; ad­vise on Home En­vi­ron­men­tal In­sur­ance avail­abil­ity.

If the land has a his­tory which may re­sult in con­tam­i­na­tion the buyer must be made aware as to the ef­fect this will have upon re­sale, value and the po­ten­tial li­a­bil­ity to con­trib­ute to­wards the costs of the re­me­di­a­tion works.

A suit­able ex­am­ple is a de­vel­op­ment con­structed at Blane­field near Glas­gow in the 1960’s when no for­mal pro­vi­sions were in place to test the land and re­me­di­ate any con­tam­i­na­tion prior to con­struc­tion.

Land con­tam­i­na­tion has been found as a re­sult of leak­age from a print works de­mol­ished 100 years ago.

Residues of lead, ar­senic and other nox­ious chem­i­cals have been dis­cov­ered in the soil fol­low­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion by Stir­ling Coun­cil in 2012.

The land is now des­ig­nated Con­tam­i­nated and the house own­ers are li­able for the sub­stan­tial costs of re­me­di­a­tion un­der the Class B pro­vi­sions as the de­vel­oper com­pany no longer ex­ist.

So in­sist that an en­vi­ron­men­tal search is re­quested by your con­veyancer and make sure they re­port to you in full.

John Rob­son is Res­i­den­tial Con­veyanc­ing Man­ager at Ford & War­ren, Leeds.

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