Thanks to the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, landlords renting out units constructed before 1978 must inform tenants—before they sign a lease—of the property’s history of lead paint, if any. They also must provide specific information about the hazards of lead paint to new renters. This is the only landlord disclosure required on the federal level.
Properties built after 1978 are exempt from the lead rule
Not every rental property in the U.S. is covered by the lead disclosure rule. In general, the law only applies to pre-1978 buildings (since lead-based paint was banned by the federal government in that year). More specifically, these types of rental properties are exempt from federal lead disclosure laws:1
- Properties built after January 1st, 1978
- Lofts, efficiencies, and studio apartments
- A single room rented in a residential dwelling
- Properties that have been certified as lead-free by a state-accredited lead inspector
- Short-term vacation rentals of 100 days or less
- Rental housing designed for tenants with disabilities or retirement communities (unless children six years old or younger are present or live there)
Landlords must provide a pamphlet and more to new tenants
If a landlord’s property isn’t exempt, there are a series of disclosures they must make to new tenants. Before signing a lease, a landlord must:2
- Provide the tenant with an EPA-approved pamphlet that discusses how to identify and control lead-based paint hazards
- Disclosure any information they have about lead-based paint on the property, including the location of the paint and the condition of the painted surfaces
- Provide any records about lead-based paint, including those that deal with common areas or other units when this info was part of a building-wide evaluation
- Include a lead disclosure statement in the lease, either as an attachment or language inserted into the lease, that includes a “Lead Warning Statement” and confirms that the landlord has complied with all notification requirements
Landlords must distribute lead hazard information during renovations
If a landlord decides to renovate a pre-1978 property, they’re required to provide lead hazard information to any affected tenants:3
- If the renovation is happening in a currently-occupied rental unit, the landlord or contractor must provide the tenants living there with a copy of an informational pamphlet from the Environmental Protection Agency
- If the renovation is affecting common areas, the landlord or contractor must send a notice to every unit in the building that mentions the start and end date for the construction, what work will be done, and where
This information must be distributed within 60 days of the renovation start date. This law applies to any change that would disturb painted surfaces (although there are some exceptions for emergency renovations and minor repairs).
Landlords must keep disclosures for three years
Landlords are required to keep a copy of the completed attachment or lease contract that contains the lead disclosures for at least three years after the start date of the tenancy.4
Landlords can face major fines if they ignore the lead disclosure rule
The penalties for violating the lead disclosure rule can be large. The Department of Housing and Urban Development can fine landlords who knowingly flaunt the law up to $18,149 per violation, even if no tenants are harmed.5 If a landlord fails to disclose, and the tenant or their family later suffers harm from lead paint in the unit, the landlord can be liable for three times the amount of damages sustained by the tenant.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.