Education and news for smart DIY landlords!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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