For commercial property owners and property managers that specialize in industrial buildings, one of the most challenging parts of the job occurs when a tenant vacates a rental.
You just never know what you are going to find when you inspect your property.
It is very common for tenants vacating an industrial building or warehouse to leave debris, unidentified substances and items that are considered hazardous waste by the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In the old days it was very easy to manage, you brought in a crew of workers and had them clear out the building and toss everything in a dumpster to haul off to the municipal dump. That no longer flies in today’s tough regulatory environment, and we find that many commercial property management companies are unaware of what to do.
We have compiled a few do’s and don’ts for you to keep you and your employees safe. Let’s start with the don’ts.
Unless you are completely positive that the material that was left in your facility constitutes non-hazardous solid waste and can be safely discarded, we advise against bringing in a crew to throw waste into the municipal dumpsters.
There are many items that look like trash but can potentially constitute hazardous waste.
Common items that WILL get you in regulatory hot water include:
Property managers need to be aware that municipal waste collection activities have become so sophisticated that waste management companies can pinpoint when a load of hazardous waste was brought to their facilities and from which locations the items came from.
Ignorance is not a defense and the liability rests with the landlord and property management company.
It is very common for drums of hazardous materials to be left behind in vacated commercial properties. It is just as common for some “cowboy” who thinks they know what they are doing to open up a drum to take a peek inside.
There are some nasty substances out there including cleaning solvents, acids, ignitable and flammable liquids that if handled improperly can blow up a city block.
It is not worth the risk of injury, property destruction or or expensive emergency haz-mat cleanup to try and save a few bucks. Save the identification process for the experts.
This leads to our do.
The single most important thing that you can do is have the number for your hazardous waste specialist on speed dial. The first call we suggest you make is to your hazardous waste specialist to have them come in and inspect the property, prior to clearing it out.
A properly licensed hazardous waste company will be able to walk the property with you, identify specific issues or substances that need special treatment, and if necessary make the proper arrangements to have the hazardous waste removed cost effectively and in compliance with government regulations.
Trying to do it yourself exposes you and your finances to way too much liability.