What are a landlord's legal responsibilities regarding lead in rental property?
Because of the health problems caused by lead poisoning, the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act was enacted in 1992. This law is commonly known as Title X (ten). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations implementing Title X apply to rental property built before 1978.
Under Title X, before signing or renewing a lease or rental agreement, and before undertaking any renovation, a landlord must give every tenant the EPA pamphlet, Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home, or a state-approved version of this pamphlet. At the start of the tenancy, both the landlord and tenant must sign an EPA-approved disclosure form to prove that the landlord told the tenants about any known lead-based paint hazards on the premises. Property owners must keep this disclosure form as part of their records for three years after the tenancy begins.
A landlord who fails to comply with EPA regulations faces penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. And a landlord who is found liable for tenant injuries from lead may have to pay three times what the tenant suffered in damages.
Some properties are not covered by Title X:
- housing for which a construction permit was obtained, or on which construction was started, after January 1, 1978;
- housing certified as lead-free by a state accredited lead inspector;
- lofts, efficiencies, and studio apartments;
- short-term vacation rentals of 100 days or less;
- a single room rented in a residential dwelling;
- housing designed for persons with disabilities, unless any child under the age of six lives there or is expected to live there; and
- retirement communities (housing designed for seniors, where one or more tenants is at least 62 years old), unless children under the age of six are present or expected to live there.
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