Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Aug 14, 2013

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If you are purchasing commercial property, you should be aware of potential environmental problems, including pollution. And, if you are the owner of land that is contaminated, you may be required by the state and federal government and federal agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency to clean-up that property. Sometimes, this is a significant expense, especially if groundwater or soil of commercial property has been contaminated and/or if chemical or dangerous wastes are present.

Purchasing Commercial Property

If you are a buyer of any property, especially commercial property, you need to exercise due diligence and have a legal contract to protect yourself in case something does go wrong. You need to obtain at least a Phase One Environmental assessment to evaluate any environmental risks and identify any potential contamination problems that you could face later. It is also a good idea to require the owner to give you a disclosure statement listing any known hazards and/or possible hazards. If your contract requires that such hazards be disclosed and something isn’t told to you, you may later be able to sue for breach of contract and collect any resulting damages from the non-disclosure of required information. To further protect yourself, you might also consider further investigation and testing as well as including a provision requiring the previous owner to indemnify you against any clean-up actions.

To make sure that you take all of the steps necessary to protect your rights, and to ensure your business doesn’t end up footing the bill for a very expensive environmental clean-up, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney knowledgeable in commercial property contracts.