One of the tasks of any leasing agent is knowing if a home they are renting is governed by the federal lead based paint rules. The law is still in effect and in the last few years there have been more enforcement efforts from federal and state authorities. In just the last year, communities like Cleveland and Baltimore have seen local enforcement efforts stepped-up. If you own a rental, built prior to 1978, you must familiarize yourself with the requirements and make sure they are a part of your rental process. I have found many leasing agents, and owners, are either not aware, or are ignoring, this federal law.
As with most federal laws, ignorance will not give the responsible party (the rental owner) a pass. This also includes situations where the owner is paying somebody to serve as a property manager. Be certain your tenants are being given all the proper notices before they ever move into your pre-1978 built rental.
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 was passed to protect families from the hazards of lead based paint. This law requires the disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before the sale OR LEASE of most housing built before 1978. It seems that this law may have out-lived its usefulness. Paint manufacturers stopped using lead in paint in the 1970’s and by now it has been removed from most homes. There may still be a very small percentage of homes that have not been touched and they could still present this hazard. Therefore, the law lives on.
Prior to the execution of a lease (for a pre-1978 built rental property) the law requires the following.
The tenant must be provided an EPA pamphlet titled “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home”. There are six language versions and your tenant needs to be given the ones that apply to any language they speak. Here are links to these brochures:
The landlord must disclose any knowledge of lead based paint including location and sources.
Records and Reports
Provide any records and reports on lead based paint or hazards associated with the paint that are available to the landlord.
The Landlord, Tenant and all Agents must execute a Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards form . The language on this form must be in the same language as the lease. This is the only one posted on the HUD site so you may have to dig deeper if you need it in another language to match your lease. This disclosure must be retained for three years from the date the lease began.
Enforcement actions still occur and include substantial fines. Both HUD and the EPA carry out inspections and can enforce this law. In cases where a seller or lessor utilizes the services of an agent (or property manager), the agent has the responsibility to inform the seller/lessor of their obligations under the Act and to ensure compliance. Failure to comply can result in fines of up to $63,500 per transaction. If found to have only minor technical violations, the owner/manager may receive a letter from the agency explaining the violations. The letter should also outline what the owner/manager must do to come into compliance. Often, the agency will plan to follow up in a year, to see that the violation is corrected.
Possible Violations In A Lease Transaction
The following is a list of the violations EPA and HUD are reviewing with rental property owners and their managers.
- Failure to provide the lead based paint information/pamphlet.
- Non-disclosure of the presence of lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards.
- Failure to disclose the presence of any lead-based paint, or lead based paint hazards, and the existence of any available records or reports.
- Not providing any records or reports.
- Failure to include, as an attachment to (or within) the contract, the disclosure statement.
- In the disclosure statement, not including a statement by the lessor regarding their knowledge of the presence of known lead-based paint, or lead-based paint hazards.
- Failure to provide lessees a list of any records or reports available to the lessor that pertain to lead hazard information. Also, the failure by the lessor to indicate
that no such list exists.
- Acknowledgement by the lessee in the contract affirming receipt of the information and the lead hazard pamphlet.
- Failure to include in the contract as an attachment a lead based paint statement. This statement is from one or more of the agents involved in the transaction. It includes verification that the agent has informed the lessor of the lessor’s obligations. It also states that the agent is aware of their duty to ensure compliance.
- The lead based paint statement must be signed and dated by the lessor, agent, and lessee.
- Failure to retain a copy of the completed disclosure records for no less than three years from the completion date of the lease.
You may want to review your leases to see if you are meeting these requirements. All it takes is an unhappy tenant seeking advice or direction from a support agency to possibly cause HUD or the EPA to investigate. Therefore, it is important that you fix any of your leases that are not properly addressing the lead based paint requirements.