(a) Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of Section 726 or any other provision of law, except subdivision (d) of this section, a secured lender may elect between the following where the real property security is environmentally impaired and the borrower’s obligations to the secured lender are in default:
(1) (A) Waiver of its lien against (i) any parcel of real property security that is environmentally impaired or is an affected parcel, and (ii) all or any portion of the fixtures and personal property attached to the parcels; and
(B) Exercise of (i) the rights and remedies of an unsecured creditor, including reduction of its claim against the borrower to judgment, and (ii) any other rights and remedies permitted by law.
(2) Exercise of (i) the rights and remedies of a creditor secured by a deed of trust or mortgage and, if applicable, a lien against fixtures or personal property attached to the real property security, and (ii) any other rights and remedies permitted by law.
(b) Before the secured lender may waive its lien against any parcel of real property security pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) on the basis of the environmental impairment contemplated by paragraph (3) of subdivision (e), (i) the secured lender shall provide written notice of the default to the borrower, and (ii) the value of the subject real property security shall be established and its environmentally impaired status shall be confirmed by an order of a court of competent jurisdiction in an action brought by the secured lender against the borrower. The complaint for a valuation and confirmation action may include causes of action for a money judgment for all or part of the secured obligation, in which case the waiver of the secured lender’s liens under paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) shall result only if and when a final money judgment is obtained against the borrower.
(c) If a secured lender elects the rights and remedies permitted by paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) and the borrower’s obligations are also secured by other real property security, fixtures, or personal property, the secured lender shall first foreclose against the additional collateral to the extent required by applicable law in which case the amount of the judgment of the secured lender pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) shall be limited to the extent Section 580a or 580d, or subdivision (b) of Section 726 apply to the foreclosures of additional real property security. The borrower may waive or modify the foreclosure requirements of this subdivision provided that the waiver or modification is in writing and signed by the borrower after default.
(d) Subdivision (a) shall be inapplicable if all of the following are true:
(1) The release or threatened release was not knowingly or negligently caused or contributed to, or knowingly or willfully permitted or acquiesced to, by any of the following:
(A) The borrower or any related party.
(B) Any affiliate or agent of the borrower or any related party.
(2) In conjunction with the making, renewal, or modification of the loan, extension of credit, guaranty, or other obligation secured by the real property security, neither the borrower, any related party, nor any affiliate or agent of either the borrower or any related party had actual knowledge or notice of the release or threatened release, or if a person had knowledge or notice of the release or threatened release, the borrower made written disclosure thereof to the secured lender after the secured lender’s written request for information concerning the environmental condition of the real property security, or the secured lender otherwise obtained actual knowledge thereof, prior to the making, renewal, or modification of the obligation.
(e) For purposes of this section:
(1) “Affected parcel” means any portion of a parcel of real property security that is (A) contiguous to the environmentally impaired parcel, even if separated by roads, streets, utility easements, or railroad rights-of-way, (B) part of an approved or proposed subdivision within the meaning of Section 66424 of the Government Code, of which the environmentally impaired parcel is also a part, or (C) within 2,000 feet of the environmentally impaired parcel.
(2) “Borrower” means the trustor under a deed of trust, or a mortgagor under a mortgage, where the deed of trust or mortgage encumbers real property security and secures the performance of the trustor or mortgagor under a loan, extension of credit, guaranty, or other obligation. The term includes any successor-in-interest of the trustor or mortgagor to the real property security before the deed of trust or mortgage has been discharged, reconveyed, or foreclosed upon.
(3) “Environmentally impaired” means that the estimated costs to clean up and remediate a past or present release or threatened release of any hazardous substance into, onto, beneath, or from the real property security, not disclosed in writing to, or otherwise actually known by, the secured lender prior to the making of the loan or extension of credit secured by the real property security, exceeds 25 percent of the higher of the aggregate fair market value of all security for the loan or extension of credit (A) at the time of the making of the loan or extension of credit, or (B) at the time of the discovery of the release or threatened release by the secured lender. For the purposes of this definition, the estimated cost to clean up and remediate the contamination caused by the release or threatened release shall include only those costs that would be incurred reasonably and in good faith, and fair market value shall be determined without giving consideration to the release or threatened release, and shall be exclusive of the amount of all liens and encumbrances against the security that are senior in priority to the lien of the secured lender. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the real property security for any loan or extension of credit secured by a single parcel of real property which is included in the National Priorities List pursuant to Section 9605 of Title 42 of the United States Code, or in any list published by the Department of Toxic Substances Control pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 25356 of the Health and Safety Code, shall be deemed to be environmentally impaired.
(4) “Hazardous substance” means any of the following:
(A) Any “hazardous substance” as defined in subdivision (h) of Section 25281 of the Health and Safety Code.
(B) Any “waste” as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 13050 of the Water Code.
(C) Petroleum, including crude oil or any fraction thereof, natural gas, natural gas liquids, liquefied natural gas, or synthetic gas usable for fuel, or any mixture thereof.
(5) “Real property security” means any real property and improvements, other than a separate interest and any related interest in the common area of a residential common interest development, as the terms “separate interest,” “common area,” and “common interest development” are defined in Sections 4095, 4100, and 4185 of the Civil Code, or real property which contains only 1 to 15 dwelling units, which in either case (A) is solely used (i) for residential purposes, or (ii) if reasonably contemplated by the parties to the deed of trust or mortgage, for residential purposes as well as limited agricultural or commercial purposes incidental thereto, and (B) is the subject of an issued certificate of occupancy unless the dwelling is to be owned and occupied by the borrower.
(6) “Related party” means any person who shares an ownership interest with the borrower in the real property security, or is a partner or joint venturer with the borrower in a partnership or joint venture, the business of which includes the acquisition, development, use, lease, or sale of the real property security.
(7) “Release” means any spilling, leaking, pumping, pouring, emitting, emptying, discharging, injecting, escaping, leaching, dumping, or disposing into the environment, including continuing migration, of hazardous substances into, onto, or through soil, surface water, or groundwater. The term does not include actions directly relating to the incorporation in a lawful manner of building materials into a permanent improvement to the real property security.
(8) “Secured lender” means the beneficiary under a deed of trust against the real property security, or the mortgagee under a mortgage against the real property security, and any successor-in-interest of the beneficiary or mortgagee to the deed of trust or mortgage.
(f) This section shall not be construed to invalidate or otherwise affect in any manner any rights or obligations arising under contract in connection with a loan or extension of credit, including, without limitation, provisions limiting recourse.
(g) This section shall only apply to loans, extensions of credit, guaranties, or other obligations secured by real property security made, renewed, or modified on or after January 1, 1992.
(Amended by Stats. 2012, Ch. 181, Sec. 45. (AB 806) Effective January 1, 2013. Operative January 1, 2014, by Sec. 86 of Ch. 181.)
Last modified: October 25, 2018