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Lead in Rental Property Paint and Water

Even though this was almost considered an obsolete topic in many areas of the United States, recent events in Flint, Michigan have brought it back to the forefront, once again. So this article serves as a reminder to those landlords that may still own property that is potentially contaminated with lead.

If your rental property was built after 1988, then chances are almost certain you do not need to concern yourself with the topic of lead. Generally speaking, property built between 1978 and 1988 would only cause concern about the possibility of lead in the soldering material used to connect copper pipes together. If your rental property was built before 1978, then you should most definitely be concerned about the possibility of lead-based paint in the unit as well – even if it may be underneath 10 layers of lead-free paint.

If your property dates back to the 1930s and later, then, in addition to concerns over lead-based paint and solder, you must be concerned about lead pipes being in the house – unless the plumbing has been completely redone to eliminate this hazard.

So, what do you do if your property falls into any of these risky category years? Well, that all depends on what you know.

First, if your property was built before 1978, you must have the tenant sign an Environmental Protection Agency lead-based paint disclosure form.

As you can see on the form, you are not required to do any testing; you are simply required to disclose what you currently know about the paint in the rental. This is the case for any possible sources of lead. If you know of an actual risk, you are required to disclose it to your tenant(s). However, if you do not know of any actual problem (i.e. you weren’t told of a problem by the previous owner, or you haven’t tested any part of the property for lead), then the only additional requirement you have is to provide a copy of the Environmental Protection Agency’s booklet Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home to all of your tenants. Additional versions in various languages may be found on the EPA’s web site You can also contact the National Lead Information Center at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323) to request printed copies of the booklet.

A note of caution – If you fail to provide the lead-based paint disclosure or a copy of the booklet on lead in homes to your tenants, you can face serious penalties, including fines of over $10,000 per incident.