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Who requires an Environmental Site Assessment and why?:
Environmental Site Assessments are crucially important to all the participants mentioned above including buyers, sellers and renters/users of a site for the following reasons:
Owners – In many cases, even if a property has been under the same ownership for many years, there may be an environmental impact to the property from historical uses that are unknown to current owners. As well, if there are influences from off site (neighbouring properties that have created either surficial or underground flows on to the subject,) these may impact the owner’s ability to sell, mortgage, develop or change the use of the property.

Additionally, if there is some negative impact within the site to tenants or users of the site, the responsibility may fall to the current land owner, even though they did not cause, or they were not aware of any contamination.

Sellers – Part of the preparation to sell a property should include an environmental site assessment. Having a current Site Assessment will go a long way to maximizing the legitimate sale price for a property. If the seller can produce a satisfactory ESA, it will reduce one more requirement, expediting the sale. As well, if there is some easily remedied impact on the site, cleaning this up and removing the question mark regarding the cost to have a site cleaned will give comfort to a buyer who wants the site, but is unsure of the costs to have the site meet his needs.

One of the most important historical documents that a seller can have after the sale of a property is an Environmental Site Assessment concluding that as of the time of the sale, the property had no environmental contamination on it. This document will go a long way to protect a past land owner if contamination is found on the site sometime in the future.

Some sites are heavily impacted and the cost to remediate the site may be more than the market value of the property. If this is the case – especially in estate or succession planning, this fact should be accurately identified and a plan incorporated to deal with the facts.

Buyers – Prior to acquiring a site the buyer should have a satisfactory Environmental Site Assessment. Notwithstanding the fact that a new property owner has not been involved in the contamination of a site they may still find that they are responsible for clean up or environmental impact once they take possession.

Lenders – Legislation dictates that individuals or organizations with an interest in a specific property — even mortgage holders — are liable for any negative environmental impact. Because of this, lending institutions generally will not provide financing on properties if there is not a current ESA stating that the specific property is clear of contamination, or that there has been satisfactory remediation.

Renters/Leasers – Possession of an Environmental Site Assessment both at the time of assuming control as well as at the end of a lease or rental term will insure that a future assessment of site contamination cannot be blamed on the past tenant during the term of their occupancy.