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    When is Environmental Expertise Required?
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    The responsibility for environmental contamination is a regulated area. This means the Ministry of the Environment and, in some cases, Ministry of Natural Resources and the applicable legislation governs who is responsible for what.

    It is dangerous when real estate agents and individual purchasers and sellers attempt to deal with contamination issues without proper assistance. The most important concept to be understood is the fact that you cannot contract out of your responsibility for environmental contamination. What you can do is properly assess and allocate the risks and costs in the agreement.

    It is common practice now for real estate agents to advise their clients to engage the services of a home inspector as a condition of purchasing a house. Under the Code of Ethics in Ontario, real estate agents are required to obtain services from another person if they are unable to provide that service with reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment and competence. The inclusion of a home inspection condition is the proper and accepted way for real estate agents to discharge this obligation.

    Contaminated properties should raise the same red flags. In fact, in my opinion, this is not as simple as including a condition. At the point contamination is known or suspected the drafting of the conditions should be undertaken by someone with environmental law experience and the site investigation should be undertaken by a qualified environmental engineer.

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