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Bill could require toxic waste disclosure to new homebuyers

Connecticut home sellers will have to disclose to potential buyers whether they are aware of any pending litigation concerning the discharge of hazardous materials on their property if a bill reviewed this week by the General Law Committee is approved.

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(skip this header) /**/ /**/ Register Sign In /**/ Traffic Weather FAQ Subscriber services Access digital edition /**/ Thursday, February 05, 2015 Businesses var defaultSiteNavId = '89'; HomeNewsSportsBusinessEntertainmentLivingObituariesBlogsClassifiedsJobsHomesRentalsCars Index ▼ Close [X] Quick links to other pages on this site | Still can't find it? see Site Index Check It Out:Were you SEEN?TrendingHot TopicsCT BitesCT PoliticsCulture CacheUConn BasketballWeekend Getaways LocalColumnistsPolice ReportsRegionalValleyNationalWorldPoliticsOpinionScience and TechnologyExtreme Weather High SchoolsHS FootballCollegesUConnSound TigersBluefishPro BaseballPro FootballPro BasketballPro HockeyColumnists MarketsReal EstateTop WorkplacesSponsored ContentSCORE: Biz Tips MoviesMusicArtsTelevisionComicsHoroscopeGamesLottery HealthHome and GardenFamilyReligionSchoolsTravelFoodWeddingsEngagementsSponsored ContentCarSense /**/ /**/ « Back to Article Bill could require toxic waste disclosure to new homebuyers Brittany Lyte Updated 9:37 pm, Thursday, March 15, 2012 Public health warning signs at Ferry Creek in StratfordA Connecticut Post report found more than a dozen Stratford residents bought homes in town without knowing the properties are what? Photo: Brian APounds Buy this photo Public health warning signs at Ferry Creek in StratfordA... This 1997 photo provided by the Environmental Protection Agency shows sediment sampling in Stratford, Conn. Photo: Contributed Photo This 1997 photo provided by the Environmental Protection Agency... // //   jQuery(function($) { $.storySlideshow(354); }); HDN.doRefresh = 1; .hst-articlebox{ width:300px !important; } /**/ .fb_share_count_wrapper {width: 52px;} .FBConnectButton_Small .FBConnectButton_Text {padding:2px 2px 3px 3px;} .FBConnectButton_Small, .FBConnectButton_RTL_Small {font-size:9px;line-height:10px;} .print_link {height: 25px;} (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); = id; js.src = "//"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk')); Tweet (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); po.type = 'text/javascript'; po.async = true; po.src = ''; var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(po, s); })(); Larger | Smaller Printable Version Email This Georgia (default) Verdana Times New Roman ArialFont /**/ Page 1 of 1 Connecticut home sellers would have to disclose to potential buyers whether they are aware of any pending litigation concerning the discharge of hazardous materials on their property if a bill reviewed this week by the Legislature's General Law Committee is approved. The disclosure proposal is intended to help homebuyers learn whether the property has been the subject of government-mandated hazardous waste remediation, said state RepDavid Baram, D-Bloomfield, chairman of a legislative work group charged with recommending improvements to the state's residential-property-condition disclosure formCurrently, the state disclosure form doesn't specifically ask homeowners to divulge to buyers whether hazardous materials are present on a residential lot. Though there isn't a specific question about toxins on the disclosure form, it requires real estate agents to tell buyers about anything on the property that could affect its valueAnd beyond the disclosure form, sellers must answer truthfully, to the best of their knowledge, any additional questions a buyer might have about the propertyThe problem is most homebuyers don't know they should ask about hazardous materialsMeanwhile, real estate agents may not be able to disclose it to buyers because they are unaware. More than 40 states have a disclosure form with a specific question about hazardous wasteConnecticut isn't one of them. Baram said the work group charged with retooling the form decided against requiring homeowners to acknowledge the presence of hazardous materials on a property, pointing out that the term "hazardous material" has a vague definitionFor example, many household cleaning items are considered hazardous "The compromise that we reached is instead of asking whether the property seller is aware of hazardous waste, we came up with a question instead that said: Are you aware of any pending litigation or legislative action involving hazardous waste on the property?" Baram said"That's how we addressed the issue and avoided requiring sellers to report something that isn't easily defined." Another bill being considered in the Insurance and Real Estate Committee would require sellers to state on the disclosure form whether hazardous materials exist on a residential propertyThis is the very requirement the law committee rejected. At a public hearing last month, Eugene AMarconi, who serves as general counsel for the Connecticut Association of Realtors, opposed the bill, arguing that a question about whether hazardous waste exists on a property can be difficult to answer. "Despite its apparent simplicity, this is not an easy question for the average homeowner to answer," Marconi said in his testimony"First, the homeowner must be familiar with what constitutes `hazardous waste.' ..Second, the homeowner must not only be aware of what constitutes hazardous waste, but must be aware of what necessitates a `cleanup' and what constitutes `cleanup.' "A homeowner throws the remainder of a solution of ammonia and water used to wash windows out in the backyardHazardous waste? Cleanup required? The next day the homeowner goes to mow the lawn and spills a cup of gasoline while attempting to fill the lawn mowerHazardous waste? Cleanup required? What kind of cleanup would be required? Unless we are going to be transforming homeowners into environmental professionals, this question may be beyond the ken of most homeowners." The bills could particularly benefit residents in Stratford, where more than 100 homes are part of a federal Superfund siteHomebuyers there have found it's no simple matter to learn whether there's a history of toxicity associated with a property. Nearly a dozen residents interviewed by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers who moved into Stratford homes since the government declared them toxic sites said they were not told their properties are tainted by hazardous wasteIf they had known, many said, they never would have moved in. Baram said he decided the work group should craft a new question to help home buyers learn about hazardous waste after reading "horror stories" published in the Connecticut Post about Stratford residents who unknowingly purchased contaminated homes. Among other revisions proposed in the bill is a new question that would require sellers to state whether an underground storage tank exists or was removed from the property during their ownership, and an increase from $300 to $500 in the fee a seller must pay a buyer if he or she wishes to avoid filling out the disclosure form. 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