Radon is a radioactive gas that is the leading cause of lung cancer in the USA among non-smokers. Therefore it is important to test any home you plan to buy for radon, and if the levels are found alarming, you should take the necessary steps to mitigate them. But whose responsibility is it to pay for radon mitigation; the buyer’s or the seller’s?
The seller of the house generally pays for radon mitigation even though there is no explicit law stating this. In some cases, the costs are split between the buyer and the seller on amicable terms so that the seller covers the basic costs, and the buyer pays for the extras.
Even though these are common practices, it is important to keep in mind that if there is no explicit clause in contracts that mandates the seller to take sole responsibility for Radon mitigation costs, the seller doesn’t have any legal obligation to take care of the procedure and any resultant installations.
Who takes the responsibility?
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ manual for Radon gas testing and the legal procedures to follow during the sale of a property. However, different states and localities list the official processes (if any) on how to go about the testing, what to do in case of increased levels, and who takes what responsibility. For example,
- Colorado Seller’s Property Disclosure Form very specifically lists Radon as a hazard and that if the seller knows of its existence, it must be disclosed to the buyer. The same should be done if the house has or had any radon mitigation equipment, as this means that the seller detected Radon gas earlier.
- EPA’S Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon estimates that 1 out of every 15 houses in the United States has high Radon levels. It goes on to mention how different states require different protocols regarding the testing and that a seller must test a house for radon before putting it in the market as buyers are entitled to know the test results and related queries.
Although the official systems pose some requirements, a predominant number of buyers and sellers seem to follow the common practice of either splitting up the installation costs (in case the buyer needs a system with extra features, he can pay for the extra), or the seller setting up the systems in place wholly by themselves as soon as high levels of Radon is detected.
In rare cases, there can be conflicts. This shouldn’t concern the buyer as he can always walk out of the deal, and the seller will have to disclose the finding of radon to the next buyer by law. So the stakes are against the seller, so it won’t be difficult to reach an amicable agreement.
Who arranges the radon test?
In its Home Buyer’s and Seller’s Guide to Radon, the EPA recommends that the seller does a Radon gas testing before putting a property on the market and that he should save all the necessary test & result documents for future references. This is seen as a positive selling point that brings value to both the parties, the buyer and the seller. To the buyer, the EPA advises that a Radon test report be well-considered before making a property purchase. In the absence of this, the buyer is advised to demand a test report before proceeding with a deal. Since there is no official rule that dictates responsibility, both parties are highly encouraged to take the initiative and be transparent about Radon levels in the house.
What if the seller won’t pay for radon mitigation?
While sellers generally agree to pay for radon mitigation, not all sellers do that. Sellers are not legally obliged to pay for it, and in some cases, the seller may be crediting the buyer for other repairing costs, so they may be hesitant to pay for radon mitigation.
If the seller won’t pay for radon mitigation, you can try to split the costs. A typical mitigation system only costs around $1500, so I wouldn’t suggest walking away from the deal for that.
If the seller is still not willing to pay, there isn’t anything you can do about it.
How much does a Radon test cost?
Like anything, Radon test expenses come in different ranges depending on several factors. The costs depend on whether the test is done with a;
- DIY short-term kit
- A monitor that runs continuously
- A full, professional inspection
Depending on various factors and the extent of the process, Radon testing and mitigation can be pinned down to an average range between $125-$350, though in some cases, it could go as low as $15 or as high as $700.
Where to check for area-specific Radon mitigation guidelines
Use the EPA website (www.epa.gov) to start with a preliminary understanding of Radon’s general presence in your locality/state. This website gives you some insights into Radon data, which are area-specific. Following this, an expert Radon testing & Mitigation company/contractor can be zeroed in on research and reviews. A joint decision by both the buyer and the seller can be made to choose the right approach and person for the job, or it could be just either of the parties making a decision that is solely their responsibility. Quick research on information websites and user forums will help better determine the available resources and personnel.
How important is a Radon test?
Radon is a gas that occurs by the natural radioactive decay of Uranium, and it is typically found in the air in minimal concentrations. Radon found in outdoor spaces is of no concern since the outdoor environment disperses any long-term retention. However, you should take high levels of Radon gas concentration in an indoor environment seriously, as Radon is the number one cause of Lung cancer in non-smokers. This makes radon testing highly important.
Does a Radon mitigation system impact property sales?
A Radon mitigation system installed in a house is most often seen as a point of value by a potential buyer as,
- It shows a checking system set in place that will notify the inhabitants in case of any required action.
- It raises the selling point of the house even though the Radon mitigation system is fairly inexpensive.
Does home insurance cover the costs of radon gas testing?
As important as the testing process is for the well-being of the users, more often than not, the home insurance policies do not cover the charges related to testing or damages. The reasoning behind this is chalked up to the fact that house owners’ insurance policies usually only cover instances that are unexpected and unpredictable.
Is it advisable to buy a house that had high levels of Radon?
If a house had high radon levels, but the levels are safe now, then there is no problem with buying that house. But the drop in radon levels should have happened after the installation of proper mitigation systems. Radon testing can be easily tampered with, so if the house had high radon levels but not anymore, even without the installation of mitigation systems, that is a red flag. You can ask the seller to run a retest using a contractor chosen by you.
Must read: Buying a house with Radon: The advice