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Breathe freely: Address radon gas in home sales

If you are buying or selling a home in Minnesota, pay attention because there are a few more forms to exchange starting this year.  The new paperwork revolves around Radon.  Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that enters buildings through the floor.  It is odorless, tasteless, and colorless.  According to the EPA, radon is the leading cause of lung cancer deaths in non-smokers in the United States. In 2013, the Minnesota legislature enacted the Radon Awareness Act ("RAA"), which went quietly into effect on January 1, 2014.  Under this new law, any seller of residential property is required to disclose any knowledge of radon concentrations in the dwelling.  Such disclosure must accompany any contract to purchase property made after January 1 and must include:

  1. whether a radon test or tests have occurred on the real property;
  2. the most current records and reports pertaining to radon concentrations within the dwelling;
  3. a description of any radon concentrations, mitigation, or remediation;
  4. information regarding the radon mitigation system; and
  5. a standardized radon warning statement.

The seller must also give the buyer a copy of the Minnesota Department of Health publication entitled "Radon in Real Estate Transactions." The RAA does not require a seller to mitigate or address the radon problem, only disclose it.  However, as one can imagine, such disclosure will inevitably lead to mitigation requirements as part of a closing deal.  While failing to disclose the required information will not invalidate a transfer of property, the seller may be liable to the buyer for any damages that are incurred as a result--potentially including mitigation or health care costs. Bottom line: if you know of radon in your home, you are required to disclose that knowledge.

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