8 July 2005, News release from Leyden Kirby Associates Ltd
The principal of Caveat Emptor (Buyer Beware) seems to be under challenge in current transactions involving residential property built upon previously used 'brownfield' land.
Solicitors and other advisors engaged in the sector are now routinely including questions about the verification of remedial works, where properties are shown as being built upon sites, which are known to have been occupied by a former user, which may have included contaminative activity.
Such a query, if not capable of an affirmative response can often, at the least, severely delay or at the worst frustrate a transaction. The party usually most affected by this situation is the vendor, who at a late stage in the proceedings can be faced with a buyer rapidly 'backing away' from a purchase.
The act of moving house is already recognised as one of the most stressful of life's experiences and the addition of a further complicating factor can only add to the pressure.
The problem arises from two most likely scenarios; either sites which were inadequately remediated, prior to the current regulatory regime, or sites more robustly remediated but which lack any form of verification evidence.
A further issue is often in evidence, where if one property on an estate suffers from an aborted sale due to the presence of contamination, the whole of the estate can be blighted until the issue is resolved.
Leyden Kirby Associates have developed an effective and rapid response system managed by Dr. Scott Elliott to respond to client's needs, by combining a map based appraisal, amplified by rapidly obtaining and testing samples from the property curtilage, to give factual advice, as quickly as possible. However, such an examination usually is requested at the point where most other issues in the sale process have been agreed.
Perhaps it is time that aspiring property sellers need to be advised to carry out basic enquiries concerning the history of their site and if any doubt exists concerning the likelihood of residual contamination, they should commission investigation and remediation, before attempting to market a property.
For further information please email Leyden Kirby Associates Ltd