Here are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding tenant lead law and disclosures that must be made about lead on rental properties.
As the health hazards of lead poisoning became more and more apparent during the 1900s, the government was forced to act. In 1992, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, commonly known as Title X, was passed. This federal law is an attempt to reduce the number of lead poisoning victims in the United States. Title X is enforced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA enforces regulations related to Title X for rental property buildings that were constructed before 1978.
In order to be in compliance with the EPA's regulations, a landlord must:
These issues must be revealed before renewing or signing a new lease. In order for the disclosure to be valid, both the landlord and the tenant must sign an EPA-approved document that proves that the landlord disclosed any known lead paint or lead paint chips on the rental property. The landlord must keep this document for their records for at least three years after the landlord-tenant relationship began.
In addition to this disclosure and the EPA approved document, the landlord, to be in line with tenant lead law, must also provide each tenant with the EPA pamphlet Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home, or another state-approved pamphlet.
If a landlord fails to comply with these procedures, he may face penalties from the EPA of up to $10,000 for each violation. In addition, if a landlord fails to disclose known lead paint hazards in a rental property, and a tenant is injured by the known lead, the landlord may have to pay the tenant triple damages in any lawsuit.
You can find out more about the lead and its dangers in residential rental properties by visiting the EPA's site at www.epa.gov/lead. This website is full of information regarding the hazards associated with lead-based paint as well as lead dust. In addition, the website also provides hints and tips that may help you control lead dust and protect your tenants.
There are several properties that are not covered by Title X. These include:
In order to protect the tenants of any rental properties, a landlord must provide notice whenever they are going to renovate. This is true for an occupied rental unit or common area in a rental property building that was constructed prior to 1978.
Under EPA regulations, the landlord must provide at least 60 days' notice to any tenants that will be affected. This includes the tenants occupying the property to be renovated and all tenants of a rental property building if a common area will be renovated. For a project to be considered a "renovation," it must be a change that has a likelihood of disturbing painted surfaces. There are exceptions for emergency renovations and minor repairs.
If the renovation is to take place in an occupied rental unit, the landlord must provide the tenant with a copy of the above mentioned EPA pamphlet. If the renovation is to take place in a common area of a rental property building, the person doing the renovation has to distribute a notice to every rental unit that describes:
As a tenant, you have the right to know if your rental has any possible health or safety hazards, including lead. If your landlord has failed to disclose the presence of lead and you (or a loved one) is suffering from lead exposure, you should look into filing a claim. To get help filing a claim, or to learn more about tenant lead law, it's a good idea to speak with a skilled landlord-tenant lawyer near you today.