Selling Guide

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B4-2.1-04, Environmental Hazard Assessments (04/01/2009)

Introduction

This topic contains information on environmental hazard assessments, including:


Overview

An environmental hazard assessment is required for condo and co-op projects if an environmental problem is identified by the lender through performance of its project underwriting or due diligence. If environmental problems are identified, the problems must be determined to be acceptable. Lenders should keep a copy of this assessment in file.


Types of Environmental Hazard Assessments

The table below describes two types of environmental hazard assessments.

Type Performed by Description
Phase I assessment (see E-2-02, Suggested Format for Phase I Environmental Hazard Assessments) the lender or by someone employed by the lender gathers information from various sources to evaluate the environmental soundness of the project.
Phase II assessment a qualified environmental consultant when required
  • Phase I assessment identifies problems or

  • Phase I assessment is inconclusive with regard to any particular hazard.


Acceptability of Consultants

Fannie Mae reserves the right to notify lenders that a particular consultant is no longer acceptable. Fannie Mae also reserves the right to refuse to accept, at any time, any future environmental assessment, report, warranty, or certification from individual consultants, specific consulting firms, or specific branch offices of consulting firms.


Phase I Environmental Assessment

A Phase I assessment enables lenders to quickly determine whether adequate information exists to evaluate the environmental status of a property. A Phase I assessment is principally a screening process that focuses on reviewing the available documentation, interviewing people who are knowledgeable about the site operations, and inspecting the site, the building, and adjoining properties. Fannie Mae does not require a specific form for a Phase I assessment.

Any report that is thorough and professionally prepared will be acceptable. For a suggested format, see E-2-02, Suggested Format for Phase I Environmental Hazard Assessments.


Phase II Environmental Assessment Description

A Phase II assessment provides a more detailed review of the site. It includes specific physical sampling for each hazard that was not acceptable under the Phase I assessment, as well as a review of historical records. It determines the presence or absence of specific environmental liabilities (such as asbestos or leaking underground storage tanks) or quantifies the extent of an observed or suspected environmental liability (such as soil or groundwater contamination).


Who Should Complete the Phase II Environmental Assessment

The specialized nature of the investigations conducted under a Phase II assessment requires the knowledge and experience of a qualified consultant.

Lenders must use care in choosing firms to perform environmental hazard assessments. Lenders should confirm that the consultant it plans to use is not affiliated with the buyer or seller of the property or a firm engaged in a business that might present a conflict of interest. Lenders should also evaluate whether the consulting firm’s personnel have adequate and appropriate education and training to carry out the required duties.


Phase II Environmental Assessment Report Forms and Requirements

Fannie Mae does not specify an exact format for the consultant’s report. Any report that is thorough and professionally prepared will be acceptable.

The table below provides the requirements for the Phase II Environmental Assessment Report.

The consultant’s report for a Phase II environmental assessment report must
include a full description of the sampling procedures
include the laboratory results
include the consultant’s recommendations
follow all regulatory standards and good management practices at all times, especially when physical sampling and laboratory analysis are involved
include a certification in the report that:
  • the assessment was performed diligently and in accordance with all regulatory and good management standards; and

  • to the best of the consultant’s knowledge, the results are complete and accurate

include the signature of an officer of the consulting firm that conducted the work


Kinds of Testing or Sampling Under Phase II Environmental Assessments

Examples of the kind of testing or sampling that occur under a Phase II assessment include but are not limited to the following:

  • investigating the status of any enforcement actions related to neighboring properties under the Superfund or Resource, Conservation, and Recovery Acts;

  • testing for underground storage leaks;

  • sampling and analyzing the soil;

  • sampling and analyzing the groundwater;

  • testing soil or facilities that are suspected as being contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls; and

  • sampling and analyzing bulk asbestos and developing related abatement and maintenance programs, if necessary.

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