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Environmental issues of commercial real estate

People purchasing commercial property in Florida have many things to consider before drafting a purchase agreement and signing a final contract. This is the case whether working with individual owners or working with developers. Issues include zoning laws, details regarding real estate land use, and property-management companies as well as details about the specific building or land. If sufficient due diligence is not done up front, the risk of commercial real estate litigation happening later on may increase.

Environmental issues are yet another set of details for people to investigate when participating in commercial real estate transactions, especially with ever-increasing governmental regulations. Buyers should thoroughly review the past histories of properties they are interested in as well as those nearby. Understanding what types of businesses or activities have taken place in an area can give valuable insight to potential future environmental problems.

Many people may think that only large industrial or manufacturing facilities need such due diligence but that is not correct. Any building or piece of land is susceptible to issues regarding environmental laws and the effects of litigation can be far reaching. In one case, as many as 160 different businesses and individuals received payouts as the result of a lawsuit involving a fuel leak.

When involved in the sales and purchase of commercial real estate, entities on both sides of transactions should take great care in ensuring full disclosures and proper contract development. Working with experienced legal counsel may be one helpful way of preventing serious issues down the road.

Source: Business In Savannah, “Commercial property owners: Be aware of potential environmental liability,”  Nicholas J. Laybourn, July 14, 2014

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