Under Title X, or the Residential Lead-Based paint Hazard Reduction Act, landlords are required to disclose any known lead-based paint or hazards in their rental property before signing or renewing a lease with a tenant.
The law was enacted in 1992 to reduce the health threats of lead-based paint to adults and children. When lead-based paint peels, chips or is sanded, it can lead to lead poisoning, which affects nearly every system in the body. Infants and young children are particularly susceptible. Lead poisoning can lead to behavior problems, impaired growth and reading and learning problems. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 250,000 U.S. children ages one through five have elevated blood lead levels.
Adults with lead poisoning often have high blood pressure, memory problems, joint and muscle pain, nerve disorders, and problems during pregnancy.
It’s clear that following the law is important, and the right thing for landlords to do. Landlords are required to tell prospective tenants about the location and condition of lead-based paint in housing built before 1978. They are also required to provide information, such as pamphlets provided by the CDC, about lead paint hazards and how to prevent exposure. Tenants may then make an informed decision about renting or not.
Recently, a landlord in Bridgeport Conn. was found to have rented apartments to families on seven different occasions without making the necessary disclosures. The landlord was charged with:
- Failing to give tenants the required information pamphlets.
- Failing to include proper warning statements in the leases.
- Failing to disclose any known lead-based paint or paint hazards.
- Failing to provide records or reports on previous lead paint enforcement actions or violations.
The landlord is now facing a federal fine of up to $127,000 for his carelessness.
In Indianapolis, Ind., the chipping lead-based paint in a rental home led to serious health issues for a three-year-old. The child came down with a fever, stopped talking, slept constantly and could not eat. A medical exam revealed lead poisoning.
In 2007, the county health department tested the home and found hazardous levels of lead in the doors, door frames, window frames and other areas. Inspectors recommended what needed to be done to bring the home into compliance. The owner of the property at that time was First National Bank of America. The home was tested again in 2009, and a letter was sent to the new owner, a private landlord, outlining that all of the lead hazards had not been corrected.
The tenant started renting the home a year ago, and asserts she knew nothing of the dangers. Doctors told her to vacate the house as soon as possible. She is now in the process of moving, but fears the home will be rented to another unsuspecting tenant. The landlord of this property could face the same charges and fines as the Bridgeport landlord.
Lead poisoning is serious—and so are the laws landlords are required to follow to keep their tenants safe. Don’t make the same mistakes as these two landlords. Protect your tenants and yourself by following Title X to the letter.