Residential properties built prior to 1978 often contain lead-based paint. As the paint deteriorates over time, particles can break off and turn into lead dust. Lead dust is extremely dangerous and can cause serious health complications.
Fortunately, federal law affords a measure of protection to consumers. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with the enforcement of the Toxic Substances Control Act and the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act. The EPA mandates that anyone renting, buying or renovating a pre-1978 home must be provided with information about the dangers of lead-based paint. In addition, certain steps are required to ensure that the health hazards of lead paint are minimized.
Landlords of residential properties built before 1978 are required to provide prospective tenants with information about the dangers of lead-based paint before any lease can be signed. A pamphlet approved by the EPA arms renters with advice on shielding themselves from the hazards of lead-based paint. In addition, landlords must disclose any information regarding the use of lead-based paint on site. This disclosure applies to common areas of multi-unit properties as well. Finally, the lease contract must include a provision entitled "Lead Warning Statement" which confirms that the landlord has complied with all of the notification requirements.
Buying and Selling
Sellers of homes built prior to 1978 face the same obligations that landlords do (as discussed above) before a prospective buyer can enter into a legally binding contract. They must provide an EPA approved pamphlet, disclose any known information on lead-based paint dangers and include the "Lead Warning Statement." Sellers face additional requirements that go above and beyond what is required of landlords. They must provide the buyer with a 10-day period to inspect the home for lead-based paint hazards. This inspection period can be shortened or lengthened upon mutual written agreement. The buyer holds the right to inspect, but he can choose to waive this right. If the buyer does elect to inspect the home for lead-based paint, best practices dictate that he hire a certified inspector.
If you are planning to renovate a pre-1978 home there are steps you can take to ensure that renovations are conducted properly and do not result in the release of lead into the air: Federal law requires that contractors provide lead information to residents before renovating a pre-1978 home. Before starting work, renovators must give you a pamphlet titled, "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home." Have the area tested for lead-based paint. Do not use a belt-sander, propane torch, heat gun, dry scraper, or dry sandpaper to remove lead-based paint, since these methods create a large amount of dust and fumes. Temporarily move your family, especially children and pregnant women, out of the home until the work is done and properly cleaned. If your family cannot be moved, make sure that the work area is properly sealed off.
Disposing of Waste Containing Lead-Based Paint
In 2000, the EPA issued a statement to clarify that homeowners and contractors are allowed to dispose of lead-based paint waste in the same way they would dispose of other household garbage. The EPA intends to keep the disposal requirements simple, low-cost, and efficient in order to encourage the removal and disposal of all lead-based paint found in homes.
Contact a qualified product liability attorney to make sure your rights are protected.