Environmental remediation statutes addressing contamination to real property often require the property owner to bear liability for the cost of pollution remediation, irrespective of whether that owner was at fault. Interpretation of these statutory regimes is often complicated when dealing with landlord-tenant-subtenant relationships. This article examines how New York state courts and federal courts sitting in New York have allocated environmental liability between landlord, tenant and subtenant. Specifically, the authors analyze allocation of environmental risk under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, the New York Oil Spill Act, and New York City Local Law 76. Examination of case law arising under these statutory regimes reveals that courts generally will hold liable the party with the power to control the leased property, and although an owner landlord may have to bear liability for the cost of remediation, he may have remedies against the party actually at fault, i.e. the tenant or subtenant, through either actions based on statutory contribution or contractual indemnification.
Recommended CitationJames Schwartz and Boris Serebro, Allocation of Environmental Risk as between Landlords and Tenants: The New York View, 19 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 49 (2001)
Available at: http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/pelr/vol19/iss1/2