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What DIY Landlords Must Know About Lead Paint

One morning, you hear a ding-dong from the front door. It’s the mailman, with a letter of a court summon. A summon from your tenant who filed a lawsuit against you for lead poisoning at your rental property. 

What is lead paint and why is it an issue?

Lead is a highly toxic metal and is widely known for its poisonous properties. The element has been mixed with paint to accelerate drying, increase durability, resist moisture that causes corrosion while maintaining a fresh new-painted look. Over time, the lead paint breaks down, crumbles and chips turn into dust that gets inhaled by you or other people. Sometimes the lead paint dust seeps into the surrounding soil, killing plants or preventing them from growing properly.

For adults, exposure to lead in the long run can cause memory loss, body aches, headaches, digestive problems, and even kidney damage. For healthy children, lead paint exposure causes learning and sensory disabilities, developmental problems, and attention deficits. Even pregnant women exposed to lead paint can affect their unborn infants with congenital diseases.

Federal regulations and its penalties

With all of these harmful effects found, the use of lead paint has been banned since 1978. Since then, the federal government has also imposed The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Act of 1992 - Title X. This law requires selling property owners, landlords, and real estate brokers to give Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - approved pamphlets and lead paint disclosures to tenants and homebuyers.

There are several states that have added some of their rules to injury-prevention federal guidelines. As a landlord or investor, you must do your own research and consult with your lawyer on which of these state-unique rules apply to you.

Even if there is no injury found on a tenant or homebuyer, fines and settlements for lawsuits and disputes could lead from $10,000 to $1,000,000 in worth. So you must give a lead paint disclosure especially if your property was built by 1978 and the years before.

How to know if your rental property is lead-free

1.   Check the date your property was built

The first step to determine if your property has lead paint is to check the date it was built. Review your title records and documents. If you’re buying an old home ask the broker to show you a record of when the house was made. If the date is a year before 1978, then you’re at risk of owning a lead-painted property.

2.   Conduct a hazard screen

For low-risk properties, a hazard screen will determine the likelihood of lead paint in it. If your property is found to might have lead, a risk assessment will be recommended.

3.   Conduct a risk assessment

In a risk assessment, assessors will look for deteriorating paint in your property and will also check if the deteriorating area has. The assessor will then categorize if your property is safe for living or is in need of total paint renovation.

4.   Get an inspector to examine your property

Let’s just say that your property was indeed built before 1978. An inspector will take paint samples and pinpoint which areas of your rental are lead-painted. This is useful if you want to do renovations, sell your house, or state in your lease lead paint warning areas in your property.

Lead paint disclosure exemptions

  • If your unit or property was built after Jan. 1, 1978.
  • If your unit is a studio or loft with no bedrooms.
  • If you’re renting your property out for less than 100 days, like Airbnb bookings.
  • If your unit or building has passed a lead-free inspection by a state-certified inspector.

Ways on how to disclose lead paint to your tenants

  • Provide EPA pamphlets.
  • Disclose knowledge of lead paint to your tenant.
  • Show a record to your tenant or property buyer that the property was built before 1978.
  • Give your tenant or buyer 10 days to inspect your property.
  • Attach lead paint warning to contract or lease.
  • Keep the record of contract or leases for 3 at least 3 years.

Lead paint is a serious issue for landlords who don’t know about the date their property was built. To avoid lawsuits and the loss of precious money, check to see if your property was built in the year 1978 and before. If it is, include a disclosure in your lease and give your tenants an EPA pamphlet when they move in.

If you’re ready, make Landlord Prep your go-to resource for landlording education. Here, we offer a complete DIY landlording course to get you on the right track. Join our academy today. If you want, you can check out Flavia’s real estate investing webinar first!