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Environmental Lien Search and Reports FAQ

About Environmental Liens:

Q: What is an Environmental Lien?
A: An environmental lien is a legal claim / encumbrance placed on a property to secure payment or compliance with environmental cleanup and remediation costs from environmental damage caused by the current or prior owners. These liens usually are imposed by government agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, other environmental authorities, or by individuals and private entities who’ve been subject to damages. This ensures that responsible parties address and pay for damages caused, including cleanup of environmental contamination or other environmental hazards.

Q: What is an Activity and Use Limitation?
A: Environmental Activity and Use Limitations (AUL) are part of the regulatory approach to managing contaminated lands. They are typically associated with the cleanup and redevelopment of brownfield sites.

Q: How do environmental liens impact properties?
A: Environmental liens may complicate property transactions as they usually must be addressed before a property can be sold, transferred, or further developed. Buyers and lending institutions typically conduct due diligence to identify any existing environmental liens and assess their implications. Once the required environmental cleanup or remediation activities are completed and any associated costs are paid, the environmental lien can be released or satisfied. This typically involves working with the relevant regulatory agency to demonstrate that the property is now in compliance with environmental regulations.

Q: What is the intent of an environmental lien report?
A: An environmental lien report, also known as an Environmental Lien Search, provides information about any existing environmental liens, AULs, or other environmental encumbrances on a property. Depending on needs, this report may include a Chain of Title to 1940 or a Chain of Title to 1980. An environmental lien report is typically acquired during a Phase 1 Environmental Site Assessment on commercial property or large residential developments. By obtaining an environmental lien report, parties involved in a property transaction can assess the level of environmental (And thus financial) risk associated with the property, insure compliance with environmental regulations, meet lending and/or legal requirements, and limit potential liability.

Q: What is the difference between the ASTM E1527-13 VS E1527-21 standards?
A: The newer ASTM E1527-21 standard includes a more detailed definition of Recognized Environmental Condition (REC), expands the scope of potential environmental hazards, adds additional requirements for significant data gaps, provides additional guidance on Environmental Liens and Activity Use Limitation (AUL) searches, and adds the requirement for title reports to search property records back to 1980. Read more about the key differences in our article: Environmental Lien Search Differences: ASTM E1527-13 vs E1527-21

Q: Where do we research for Environmental Liens and AULs?
A: The ASTM E1527-13 lists the various document repositories that must be researched to meet those standards. These places are listed in section 4.6 of the standard are: federal, tribal, state and local government records. The specific records offices that we research to complete any given search vary based on the subject properties location. This is a very important distinction. Wherever your site is located, our team will know the appropriate locations to research in order to meet this requirement.
Due to decades of experience in the industry, and as the #1 title search company servicing this industry, we have a proprietary and complete list of state by state specific, judicial and local records resources to search for recorded environmental encumbrances. This acclaim should not be under-appreciated.

Q: How is the chain of title research completed?
A: The chain of title report is done by researching the County records Grantor / Grantee index. Following the ownership transfer back to a specified time. Our clients typically request that we research back to 1940 to meet the requirements described in section 8.3.2 of the ASTM E1527-13. For the latest E1527-21 standard, we’ll research back to 1980.

Q: How often are Environmental Liens and AULs found on property parcels?
A: While neither are common, AULs are more prevalent and when found often exist within deeds. Despite being uncommon, the financial risks associated with environmental liens can be extremely large.

About AFX Research:

Q. Do we service all 50 US States?
A. Yes. AFX provides commercial title research and reports, including abstracts for environmental liens & auls and chain of titles, in every county of all 50 States.

Q. How are our environmental lien abstracts delivered?
A. Standard delivery is as a PDF attachment to an email. However, some of our larger clients prefer that we upload the completed reports via FTP directly to their servers.

Q. What is our standard turnaround time for environmental lien reports?
A. Turnaround time will vary depending on the product ordered and location of the property. Standard turnaround time for a Current Owner Search or Environmental Lien report is 3 business days or less. Chain of Title reports are generally completed within 5 business days.

Q. How do you place an order with us?
A. You may place and order anytime here, https://environmentalliens.com/multiple-orders/, or call us at 1-877-848-5337. After your first order submission, AFX will create a custom portal account for you. You will be able to place additional orders, check the status on environmental research in progress, and review any already completed reports.

Q. Do we provide Customer Service to review completed reports?
A. Yes. Each of our clients are assigned a Client Relationship Manager (CRM). Your CRM is available to answer any questions on completed reports. They are also able to provide quotes on bulk/portfolio projects or ensure expedite/rush services, when necessary.

Q. How long will clients have access to completed environmental lien reports?
A. We deliver reports via email attachments, api connections, and make them available on our portal. All completed reports are saved on AFX servers for at least 24 months. If needed, we can set specific account requirements to retain the reports for a longer duration.

Q. Do we provide updates to previously completed reports?
A. Clients often need updates on previously ordered reports. In those cases, AFX will offer discounted pricing on the “bring to date” reports.

Q: Do we offer discounted pricing on large portfolio projects?
A: Yes, we do offer discounted pricing on portfolio projects. Pricing is negotiated on a case by case basis, as research costs will vary by county and project size. Please contact us by phone to discuss your environmental project: 1-877-848-5337