Landlords & Lead-Paint Disclosure: What to Do

For some property owners, lead paint is an inevitable piece of old structures that can have severe consequences if it’s not managed properly. Homes built before 1978 are typically where you’ll find lead paint because it was that year lead paint was banned from use in homes and condominiums.  

Why is Lead So Dangerous? 

Lead paint poses serious risks, especially for young children. It may cause developmental delays, weight loss, seizures, nausea, loss of appetite, and more. While there are many steps we can take to prevent lead exposure in children — it begins with landlords and their obligation to uphold lead-paint disclosure. 

Property owners have an obligation to not only the people — but also the law when it comes to lead-paint disclosure. 

Lead exposure can have many damaging symptoms, even to adults. Some common risks associated with lead exposure include but are not limited to: 

  • High blood pressure 
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Difficulties with memory or concentration
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Mood disorders
  • Reduced sperm count and abnormal sperm
  • Miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth in pregnant women

Where Can Lead Be Found? 

For those who want to make sure that their home is lead safe, it’s important to know which areas present a great risk and where to look for lead-based paint hazards. 

Perhaps the most notable areas are those that receive a lot of traffic or use. This may include housing materials that get moved around or are touched frequently. Be vigilant and on the lookout in these areas: 

  • Banisters 
  • Handrails 
  • Stairs
  • Porches 
  • Window sills and frames 
  • Doors and door frames 
  • Trimming

Be on the lookout for chipping, cracking, peeling, chalking, or even dampening as this may disturb lead paint and leave particles to be ingested. 

A Note to Property Owners and Landlords

Property owners, landlords, leasing agents, and rental property managers have an immense responsibility when it comes to protecting their tenants’ health and wellness. This is especially true for older buildings or at least those built before 1978. 

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

“Federal law requires that before being obligated under a contract to buy housing built prior to 1978, buyers must receive the following from the homeseller.” 

  • Information approved by the EPA regarding the identification and control practices of lead-based paint hazards
  • Any and all known information regarding the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the building or home
  • Multi-unit building must file records and reports regarding common areas and other units in regards to building-wide evaluations
  • Lead Warning Statements attached to the contract, or in the contract that confirms the seller is compliant with notification requirements and seller’s disclosure responsibilities

There must also be a 10-day period where paint inspections or risk assessments for lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards can take place. This period can be lengthened or shortened if both parties agree — however, it should be done in writing. Homebuyers may also waive this inspection entirely. However, it’s the duty of the property owner to take these necessary steps to inform and inspect a home prior to selling. 

A Note for Real Estate Agents and Home Sellers

Real estate agents and even home sellers play a significant role in protecting those who purchase homes with lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. Federal law requires those selling a home to offer up specific information regarding lead paint before the purchasing contracts begin. 

A real estate agent must inform the seller of the Real Estate Notification and Disclosure Rule, and how the seller is obligated to perform certain steps in order to protect new homeowners from lead-based hazards. The contract process is also a crucial step in the lead-paint disclosure process. Unfortunately, the agent can be held responsible if the seller or leasing-party fails to comply with this rule. 

The contract process plays a significant role in the lead-paint disclosure endeavor. There is an EPA-approved pamphlet that outlines how to identify and control lead-based paint hazards called Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home, which should be attached to the contract documentation. This, in addition to other EPA-supported information, this can be your saving grace when it comes to potential issues in the future that may affect a family. Keep your buyers informed and vigilant — it’s the best way to protect future homeowners. 

A Note to Renters

Federal law also protects those who rent, which means that renters must receive information approved by the EPA for buildings or housing built before 1978. 

  • EPA approved information on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards 
  • Information regarding the presence and location of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards in the building
  • Language in the contract, or attached that includes a Lead Warning Statement which will confirm that the renting property has remained compliant with notification requests to residents

Are There Any Exemptions? 

Surprisingly, there are some fairly notable exceptions to lead-paint disclosure laws. While most landlords and owners must abide by these laws for homes constructed prior to 1978, here are some exemptions. 

  • Dwelling units with no bedrooms 
  • Dwelling units that are leased for 100 days or less (short-term rentals)
  • Elderly-designated housing (if there are no children living there) 
  • Rental units that have been designated as “free of lead-based paint” by a certified lead inspector 

If your home was built before 1978, it’s always recommended that you get your home inspected or assessed by a professional to see where in the home may be susceptible to exposure. There is a difference between a lead paint inspection and assessment. 

A Note to Professionals

Lead Paint Inspection 

You may need a lead paint inspection. Contractors working in areas with lead-based paint hazards must undergo certain training in order to work in these areas properly. A lead paint inspector must undergo certification training to learn proper steps to identify where lead-based paint may be present in the home. 

Lead Risk Assessment 

For those looking to identify the source of lead exposure that may have occurred to an occupant, a lead risk assessment must be conducted. A lead paint assessor is certified and trained to properly investigate and report their findings to keep homeowners and renters safe. 

Lead Abatement 

For those looking to have lead-based paint hazards removed, an abatement process must be done. Abatement works to either remove the lead-based paint hazard or properly seal it up so that it doesn’t pose a risk to residents. Abatement jobs and RRP are different, so it’s important to know what qualifications separate the two jobs. 

Lead certification is an important part of the lead disclosure ecosystem, as it’s the only way to properly manage lead-based paint hazards. Lead certifications come in many shapes and sizes, but they work together to keep contractors informed and residents safe—failure to have certain certifications while on the job can result in fines of $37,500 per day.