What Property Owners Need to Know About Assembly Bill No 1921
August 15, 2016
Everything You Should Know About Proposed Assembly Bill No 1921
Owners of contaminated residential properties often have great difficulty selling them due to real or perceived health threats associated with said contamination. However, if Assembly Bill No 1921 is enacted into law, owners of residential property contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may be able to demand that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) offer to purchase the property.
What is a VOC?
Dozens of chemicals are classified as VOCs, including chemicals used in dry cleaning operations and as gasoline components. Assembly Bill No 1921 would require the DEP to offer to purchase a single-family or two-family residential property that is contaminated with VOCs, provided that the homeowner requests the offer and:
- Levels of VOCs in the indoor air of the residence exceed applicable screening levels and require remedial action to protect the health of the residents;
- Levels of VOCs in the soil at the property exceed applicable soil remediation standards; and
- The owner had no notice that the property was contaminated with VOCs at the time of purchase.
Components of Assembly Bill No 1921
The bill would require homeowners to request purchase by the DEP within one year after the date of enactment of the bill or within one year after the date of discovery of the contamination – whichever is later. The DEP would then be required to make its purchase offer within 60 days. In addition, the DEP would be required to purchase the property at fair market value without allowing for any diminution in value caused by the contamination.
Once purchased, the structures at the property would be demolished and the property would be remediated for use as open space. Funding for the proposed actions would be made available from the New Jersey Spill Compensation Fund.The Assembly passed the proposed bill by a vote of 60-13 in June, and it is currently pending before the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. The DEP opposes the bill, citing the costs of purchasing contaminated properties. We will be closely tracking Assembly Bill No 1921 as it proceeds through the Legislature and we will post updates as they become available.
Are you a residential property owner? Are you unsure how Assembly Bill No 1921 could affect you? Please contact me, Dan McKillop, with any questions regarding the proposed bill.