What Do You Do If Your Rental Has Lead?

Exposure to lead-based paints and lead pipes can cause serious health problems, especially in children. Buildings built before 1978 may contain some lead, whether it is in the paint, pipes, or solder used on copper pipes.

Under Federal law, you must notify the tenant of any lead paint hazards on the property before signing or renewing the lease or rental agreement. If you have tested your property, you will include a copy of the report or a summary written by the inspector. It also includes a guide "Protecting Your Family from Lead at Home" to provide tenants with lead hazard information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the guide being available at www.epa.gov/lead. Many State agencies have developed their own brochures, and if the EPA approves these brochures, you can use them instead of the EPA version.

With a few exceptions, each lease and rental agreement must include a disclosure page, even if you have not tested your property for lead. You can use the official EPA "Disclosure of Information on Lead Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards" at www.epa.gov. The form has a space for the tenant to initial indicating that they have received it. It’s important to note and the date and time the tenant received the disclosures, especially if you plan on signing the lease that same day. This way, you’ll be able to prove the tenant received the disclosure form before signing the rental documents.

Most states also require landlords to carefully maintain any existing lead paint and lead-based building materials. If you comply with State regulations, you must also comply with Federal laws.