Last month we blogged about a case out of Newfoundland in which a buyer’s negligence lawsuit against a seller’s environmental consultant was tossed out because the buyer had no right to rely on the environmental assessment report issued by the consultant for the seller. That article, “Buyer Can’t Rely on Seller’s Environmental Reports,” was picked up in this month’s newsletter of the Ontario Real Estate Law Guide: Ontario Real Estate Law Developments. We subsequently had a call from a lawyer at a prominent Toronto real estate firm inquiring about the environmental “reliance letter” we referenced.
As we indicated in the original article, the contract provisions between the seller and the consultant in the Newfoundland case are fairly boilerplate. But, if a buyer wants to rely on the results documented by a seller’s consultant, he or she simply needs to contact the consultant to ask for a “reliance letter” allowing the buyer to rely on the report too. There may be a charge for that reliance letter, or there may not be. The real estate solicitor who called us said his firm’s oft-used consulting group will (for a nominal charge) walk a prospective buyer through a property and explain the report even though prepared for the seller. Like all professionals, consultants have to live off both their reputation and skill. Standard contract language can often be altered or worked around to suit all parties in a real estate transaction. But you have to ask.