Question: What are a Landlord’s obligations to reduce or eliminate VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) in commercial leases?
An “as is” clause of general application in the lease and a general indemnity from the tenant is unlikely to completely insulate the Landlord from liability.
If a tenant alerts the Landlord of particular sensitivities and insists on certain products, the Landlord should consider a provision to the lease that might provide that the Tenant undertakes sole responsibility and liability for painting, spackling and carpet cleaning with an appropriate credit and indemnifies the Landlord from any claims brought by tenant’s employees. The products, contractors, processes and finish should be subject to the Landlord’s approval, with appropriate disclaimers regarding their efficacy.
The Landlord may want to consider, cost and time permitting, to start using Low-VOC or No-VOC products and appropriate cleaning procedures and cleaning products recommended by LEED or similar organizations. It may also be prudent to have a consultant take a reading of the premises to establish a baseline or identify what could be liability before a tenant occupies the premises.
As a final thought, the Landlord should prohibit in its lease tenants from using contaminating products or processes in undertaking any maintenance, repairs and improvements.