Tenant-Caused Contamination: Who is Liable?
By Andy Rigel
Washington State and federal environmental statutes impose strict liability on owners of property where there has been a release of hazardous substances. “Strict liability” means the current owner is liable for cleanup costs even if the tenant caused the contamination. The landlord and property owner, however, should be able to bring legal claims against the tenant based on the lease and the environmental statutes to fund a cleanup. But if the tenant is unable to pay, the environmental statutes still require the current property owner to be responsible for the cleanup.