When it comes to taking care of our own health, all too often we rely upon reactive maintenance. For example, you ignore your doctor’s warnings and continue to eat fast food and fail to exercise on a semi-regular basis. You had the chance to help control the situation with some basic preventive maintenance, but you were too busy working and focused on more immediate issues. Now, crisis strikes suddenly in the form of a heart attack. Assuming you survive, you are now left with complicated reactive maintenance, hoping to repair the damage that has already been done. But could this have been avoided with simple preventive maintenance?
Often, the answer is yes. The same holds true for the environmental health of a commercial landlord’s property investments. If you choose to look the other way while your tenants operate your property, environmental issues could be like ticking time bombs waiting to explode into a full scale emergency. The problem is simple. It is the tenant, not the landlord, that has physical control of your property. Yes, your lease agreement requires the tenant to comply with environmental laws, but what if they don’t and their failure is not immediately obvious? It could be years and years before the contamination is discovered by a Phase I analysis conducted by a potential buyer of your property. By that time, the old tenant may be out of business or impossible to locate, not to mention you just lost your sale and may be stuck with the costly clean-up expenses.
So what can be reasonably done to help prevent this from happening? One potential solution is what has come to be known as a Tenant Environmental Evaluation, or “TEE”. A TEE is a simple process handled by your environmental consultant that evaluates a new tenant’s expected use, periodically monitors that use throughout the lease term, and supervises the tenant’s exit from the property upon lease expiration to ensure all equipment and chemicals are properly removed. It is not nearly as involved, exhaustive, or costly as a Phase I since you are monitoring real time activities, not investigating past covered-up abuses. When it comes to your real property investments, the best advice and practice is to be proactive, not reactive. After all, a simple change to your diet beats a quadruple bypass any day!