Lead-Based Paint Disclosure: Real Estate Health Hazards


Lead-Based Paint Disclosure: Real Estate Health Hazards

Rusty can of paint with encrusted, smeared labels
Photo by Jack Douglass on Unsplash


Lead-based paint used to be the standard formula for decades

We praised it for its quick drying time, resistance to moisture, wide application, and dense and opaque coverage. People could paint multiple coats without waiting too long, and the results were outstanding. Unfortunately, everybody used it from the 4th century BC until late in the 20th century, when its harmful effects were finally discovered—and the government intervened and banned lead-based paint in 1978.

What are the implications of the government’s rule? What should you do if you’re the owner and landlord of a pre-1978 housing or property? Today we explore the answers.

What Is the Lead-Based Paint Disclosure Rule? 

Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 to protect all individuals from exposure to lead-based paint and any lead from dust and soil. 

Both the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) require that you disclose all lead hazards before selling or leasing a property built before 1978. They also detail the language you must use, require you to indicate the location and condition of lead-based areas, and the presence of a “Lead Warning Statement” in the contract or lease agreement.

Now, while the Act covers most private and public housing, there are exceptions and rules that state and local municipality laws may have towards handling and disclosing the presence of lead-based paint. For example, most vacation rentals and single rooms rented in a residential home are generally exempted.

You’ll have to meet the general regulations and local mandates to ensure complete compliance.

What are the Negative Effects of Lead-Based Paint Anyway?

The government is taking serious actions towards lead-based paint, as lead can severely harm any individual exposed to the material. For instance, if your tenants are exposed to the substance for an extended period or amount, they may experience the following adverse effects:

  • Memory loss
  • Body aches
  • Headaches
  • Digestive problems
  • Kidney damage

The effects are even more harmful to children. WebMD lists the possible consequences of lead on children:

  • Learning disabilities
  • Attention deficits
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Abnormal growth
  • Nerve damage
  • Hearing problems
  • Bone marrow issues

Disclosing lead-based paint to your tenants goes beyond abiding by the law. Instead, doing so is being a responsible citizen and human being, protecting your fellow people from unknowingly falling victim to the harmful effects of lead-based paint.

How to Check if Your Home Has Lead-Based Paint

Nearly all the homes and buildings built before 1978 used lead-based paint, which means unless someone performed lead removal on a house built before 1978 – it probably has lead in it. 

Here are the common areas where you might find lead-based paint:

  • Doors and door frames
  • Windows and window sills
  • Stairs, railings, fences, and porches 

Lead-based paint may also be present underneath layers of latex paint, as others may have painted it over to contain the lead. The best way to inspect and remove lead-based paint is by hiring professional inspectors and contractors.

An inspector can identify the presence of lead paint on any surface of the home before you do any renovations. They may use an x-ray device and/or take paint & soil samples and send them to a lab for analysis. Then they’ll give you a report to give you a report identify where they found lead contamination. Then, contractors can strip the paint off with a heat gun, sander, or use liquid paint removers while using a particulate vacuum to contain all the harmful particles.

You can also conduct a risk assessment and hazard screening, but these are not robust inspections. For example, risk assessment only finds deteriorating paint and evaluates its condition and cause of its breakdown, while a hazard screening will only indicate the likelihood of a lead-based paint risk.

DIY lead paint tests are also available in local hardware stores, but they come with limits. For example, they may have varying thresholds for lead presence, which means you might get a false negative result. There might be significant amounts of lead on the surface, but the test will deem it “safe” just because it falls a bit short of its threshold—misleading you into thinking there’s no lead.

Find more information on how to tell if your home has lead-based paint and the tips on evaluating and eliminating lead-based paint from EPA’s website.

How to disclose lead paint to tenants 

The disclosure must follow the standard parameters to ensure that the renters are aware of the presence of lead and the hazards it produces. EPA has outlined all of the laws and regulations on lead and real estate disclosures required, but here is a quick summary of what you need to do:

  • Provide the tenant with the EPA-approved pamphlet Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home (PDF) that details what one can expect from lead-based hazards.
  • Inform the tenant of all the lead-based paint applications in the home, including the location and condition of the paint. You must also brief them on the measures you’ve taken, either to remove the paint or cover it with a non-lead alternative.
  • Include all this information in your lease agreement as a separate section, titling it the “Lead Warning Statement” so it’s clear to tenants. You can find more help on lead-based paint disclosure on Avail.co’s website to comply with the ordinances.
  • Provide all the records and reports on lead-based paint with every lease renewal as well. Show them that you’ve followed all the notification requirements and remind them of the lead-based hazards. Here’s a sample from the EPA for you to review.

Remember that there are still other local landlord-tenant laws that may apply to your areas. 

In a nutshell, you need to comply with the regulations and mandates on lead-based paint disclosures, or you can expect to receive a lawsuit due to the substances’ harmful effects on tenant health.

Disclose and Dispose to Protect Tenants and Properties

Lead-based paint is not an innocuous substance. It’s been banned by the government because it has harmful effects on people, especially on children who are still developing their neurological systems. 

As a landlord, you must comply with regulations to ensure that your tenants are properly informed about lead hazards in their home, mainly so they can take precautions before moving in. More than complying with the laws, however, do everything you can to inspect, determine, and remove any traces of lead paint to protect your fellow humans and keep your rental business going smoothly. 

Did we provide the answer you need? If you need more help, my inbox is always open for you. Get expert advice from experienced property managers that have been handling lead-based paint for decades.



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