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Consequences of buying a property in contaminated area

buying property in a contaminated area - conveyancing solicitor adviceAs per the warning card issued by the Law Society to conveyancing solicitors, they have to advise the prospective buyer to check for possible contaminants in the land. They should also explain in detail the possible liabilities associated with such a contamination. There are several reasons why contamination can become a serious issue:

  • First and foremost, the property cannot be habited, sold, or mortgaged until the contamination is removed.
  • If the prospective buyer intends to develop the property, the LPA would expect him to take responsibility and ensure the removal and control of the contaminants.
  • The owner could also possibly face action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 or any other environmental protection regulation that is applicable to the condition.
  • Remedying this contamination can be expensive and cumbersome. It may include excavating the soil, ensuring proper disposal and even encapsulating it to prevent future contamination.

However, in the case of new houses, the NHBC covers the cost of cleaning contaminants that are subsequently found. But, such insurance lasts for not more than 10 years.

The Contaminated Land Regime under the EPA 1990:

The local authority is expected to perform an inspection of the property and check for contaminants. If contaminants are found, necessary steps should be taken to ensure that they are removed and remedied.  This is usually served on the person who has knowingly or unknowingly caused the contamination. It can be also submitted to the first and original polluter. And if this polluter cannot be identified, liability falls on the current owner.

 Planning and Contamination:

Upon submission of a proposal for development, the LPA is more than likely to impose conditions that require the property to be cleaned before the development can take place. Sometimes, they may launch a full- fledged investigation to study potential contamination.

Searches and Enquiries and Other Investigations:

The buyer’s solicitor should be able to determine when a property might give rise to problems related to the contamination of water and then give full advice to the client.

Photo courtesy: midiman

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