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Tenant Disclosure Requirements for Lead Based Paint


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One of the things that any investment property owner must be aware of is the federal regulations surrounding lead based paint.  These regulations were enacted in 1992 as part of the EPA’s Residential Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act.  Basically, if your rental property was built prior to 1978, you will have a few requirements by which you must abide.  The reason 1978 is the cutoff is because lead-based paint was used widely prior to this date and has been outlawed ever since due to its health-related consequences. 

So if your property was built before 1978, one of your landlord responsibilties is to disclose the presence of lead based paint to your tenants.  If you are aware of this type of paint in the home then you must say so via a written disclosure, and if not you must specifically say that you have no knowledge of any lead based paint.  Landlords must also provide new renters with the EPA pamphlet entitled “protect your family from lead in your home” (the pamphlet is available at www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/leadpdfe.pdf).  You will also want to make sure that your apartment lease contains some form of legalese around lead based paint as an additional “CYA” measure. 

The good news is that you are not required to remove lead based paint from the home; you are only required to disclose its presence.  However, failing to disclose the presence of known lead based paint on the property can result in substantial fines, oftentimes encompassing thousands of dollars.  For example, in 2003 a nationwide apartment management company had to pay $55K in fines due to the undisclosed presence of lead based paint in the garage.  Additionally, if your tenant has a child that eats some lead based paint chips and becomes ill for example, and you failed to disclose the presence of the lead based paint, you will likely get sued.  Yes your landlord insurance would probably cover the monetary damages, but why open up that can of worms in the first place?

So if you have a property that was built prior to 1978, take some time to understand the full scope of all the landlord tenant laws and regulations regarding your lead paint disclosure requirements.  The requirements are not difficult to comply with, and failure to do so could expose your business to an extreme amount of financial and legal liability.  Thus, there is simply no excuse for not complying.



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