Would a radon mitigation system scare off potential tenants?

12 Replies

In the areas where I invest, a small percentage of houses (that get tested) have a radon level greater than 4. The actual percentage might be higher, since many people do not even test. Nevertheless, radon is not a significant issue in this area, so many people do not have much knowledge about it.

I recently walked through a SFH that I am considering buying as a college student rental property, and I noticed that there is a radon mitigation system installed. This is not a common feature in this area.

My gut tells me that the presence of a radon mitigation system may be a deterrent to renters, even though the property "may" be much safer than surrounding properties. The natural instinct may be to assume that the house is unsafe because it requires a mitigation system. This is a naive position, but one that will be difficult to overcome without educating each prospective tenant about radon. 

Ironically, renters never ask about radon, so the property would probably rent just fine without the mitigation system, even if the radon levels were high. Of course, that would be highly unethical. I only mention it to emphasize the lack of attention that people give to radon in the area.

1. Considering the lack of local knowledge about radon, do you think a radon mitigation system would scare off potential tenants?

2. Are there any liability concerns in renting such a property?

Thanks in advance for your insight and advice concerning buying this property.

Don't think it would be an issue. Maybe a selling point of "hey look how safe this house is compared to others". Of course the system has to be installed and working correctly.

I have seen several leases that have a radon disclosure in them. I think you could put in same section as smoke alarms and CO2. A house I built had a radon system and the contractor had a big section about radon and underground water (unrelated).

Of course, check with your attorney.

Wendy, Radon is a naturally occurring gas that is released from the ground. It can be dangerous at high levels. The EPA web site has lots of information about it. Here is a link to a basic fact sheet: 


Thomas, Thanks for the opinion. I tend to think like you on this topic. However, radon issues are much more prevalent in Colorado than in Michigan. My concern is not about the radon itself as long as it is controlled, but rather about the perceptions that people may have if they don't know much about radon. I will probably have to educate potential tenants to alleviate their fears. 

@Ron Averill  

Funny you mentioned this topic, I am about to have radon mitigation systems installed in two CO rental properties.  You can go to the EPA.gov website and download the booklet "A Radon Guide For Tenants".  I plan to give a copy to my tenants.  It's a pretty descriptive guide so should help answer any tenant questions should you purchase a house with a radon mitigation system installed.

Michelle, That's a good idea to provide the EPA booklet. Thanks. 

You're welcome, good luck to you.

I dont have rentals but we run into this all the time when we sell houses, we have never had a buyer walk due to radon issues, or the need to install the system when test results are high, which is probably 30% of the time. 

Dell, That's good to hear. I'm encouraged by all the feedback so far. 

My analogy is this: Mold is not good, so we install sump pumps, dehumidifiers and roofs to keep things dry. No one ever complains about sump pumps, dehumidifiers and roofs because people understand a little about mold, its dangers and how to prevent it. 

The radon situation is similar in some ways. Hopefully this analogy and some added education will help to alleviate some of the fears in the Michigan population, who does not know as much about radon as some other parts of the country. 

@Ron Averill I am wondering if you even bring it to people's attention? Have it in the lease but don't point it out. A lot of times things we worry about are not even on other peoples radar and the moment we point it out it becomes their concern as well.

Less is more. Loose lips sink ships. Disclose where required but don't over sell.

I just bought a property in Colorado Springs. My inspector did a Radon test and the results came back slightly higher than the "acceptable" limit. There was no Radon mitigation system in place. I learned all I could about Radon and asked the seller to pay for half of the Radon mitigation system. My son will be living there full time and I want to know that he is living in a safe environment.

Ron has it correct. If the issue comes up, make sure potential buyers are educated on the risks and mitigation. It was not a show stopper for me once I had all the facts.

Thomas, I may be worrying more than I should about this. Or, maybe I'm not giving my potential tenants enough credit. 

I have to disclose the presence of the mitigation system, as the mitigation system (pipe and pump) is visible on the back of the house. The conversation will happen at some point, so my plan is to turn it into a positive. 

I have not bought the house, yet.

Paul, You are the target customer I'm concerned about -- the parent of someone who will rent the house from me. Thank you for sharing your experience. 

I was worried about the presence of a mitigation system. Now I'm starting to think that I should add them to my other properties as a competitive advantage, even though they have all been tested and are below the recommended limit. :)

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