Purchasing Vacant Facilities

Churches should never purchase a structure without an environmental assessment.

Church Law and Tax 1992-05-01 Recent Developments

Church Property

Churches need to be careful when purchasing vacant public school facilities. This point is illustrated by a recent case in New York. A church purchased a public school building after being assured by a school district employee that the building did not contain asbestos. In fact, the building did contain asbestos, as the church later discovered. However, the church waited 3 years to sue the school district. A court dismissed the lawsuit against the school district on the ground that it was not filed within 1 year of the discovery of the asbestos (as required by state law). The church also sued the architects and engineers that it had retained. The court did rule that these persons could sue the school for assistance in paying any eventual money judgment. The significance of this case should be obvious—churches should never purchase school buildings (or any other structure) without an environmental assessment. Failure to do so can lead to disastrous consequences. First Bible Baptist Church v. Gates-Chili Central School District, 569 N.Y.S.2d 313 (A.D. 4 Dept. 1991).

See Also: Government Regulation of Churches

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