Lead in property 101

11 Replies

Hello, my name is Tinah, from MA and I am a newbie. I am in need of direction  in dealing with possible lead in an old property. During inspection I found an infant of about 6 months in the apartment (have yet to see the lease agreements). Seller has disclosed that they are unaware of what the lead status is in the premises.

The law states "Children under 6 can not live in apartment without a deleading certificate. Landlord can delead or "control" exposure within 90 days with expectation to delead in 2 years.

May I draw on everyone's wisdom by asking - "What would you do if a.) you have the funds to remedy the problem and b.) you are short on funds?"

Thank you.


Hey Tinah! Great to see other newbies joining. I've just bought my first property in Bristol RI, so I'm in the same boat as you :)

As for lead, my partner's relatives have been in real estate for a long time. They don't run the best system, and while they know about the laws, they have never checked for lead or gotten their houses officially deleaded before renting to children under 6. Personally, I think health and safety are the two most important things when running any business, including real estate. I would get the house certified deleaded ASAP if the tenant's lease continues into your ownership of the house. If you don't have the money, you may be able to get a loan to spread the cost over a few months to get the rental income to pay for it. However, the only experience I have with it is my relatives not following the laws, so the only thing I can solidly recommend is to definitely not just ignore the laws haha.

@Tinah Canda so this is going to be hard and almost certainly expensive. Once you test you will find it and with a child in there you have to act. I’m not sure I’d buy it under these circumstances unless you are financially prepared.

You may be able to contain as opposed to delead. You will need to house the tenants while you do so either way. The most dangerous part of lead is when you go to fix it, as the dust is dangerous. You will need a licensed contractor. Be prepared to be shocked by the price—they aren’t just charging you for the work they are charging you for taking on liability.

Look up “strict liability”. There are loans to help with expense.

@Jonathan R McLaughlin

Thank you for that link. I may have inadvertently signed that disclosure but my agent did not tell me that clause about deleading or controlled within 90 days when a child is involved. Seller's agent said it was covered and he showed a lead disclosure signed by tenant. That's it.

In fact, when I asked him after the P&S when I learned about that law, he told me deleading would be the dumb move because there are smart ways of going about it by doing some work before getting lead inspection (this can lead to a violation). I should not worry about deleading.

@Tinah Canda is this lawyer the closing attorney? If so they aren't YOUR lawyer, they are the bank's lawyer who is working with you. And/or did you find them through the realtor? 

Since no one KNOWS lead is present, the requirements don't actually kick in. A polite fiction that keeps the wheels turning for all these transactions. Again, all fine till the child gets sick. A good plaintiff's lawyer would make mincemeat of the "Oh I didn't know there was lead" defense. 

If the place is in good condition its probably easy and cheap to get a letter of interim control, which gives you two years. Thats a long time in rental terms.

Yes @Jonathan R McLaughlin he is the closing attorney and the realtor chose him for me.

The place is in good condition, it still needs work though, the seller's realtor offered to take off a few more thousand dollars to close the deal. Who performs the interim control? Would it be the lead abatement specialist too? What's the estimated cost of the project?

Going forward on this transaction, my current realtor and lawyer are useless. They just let the seller's team walk all over me. Somebody suggested I should fire them both. Can I? How does one go about firing the realtor and lawyer?

@Jonathan R McLaughlin a letter of interim control isn't cheaper in the long run. It's actually more expensive. In order to get the letter you pay for a lead inspection, then you pay a deleading company to do the "emergency work" - which requires setting up containment and doing what's necessary, then you pay for another inspection, then a year later, you get to pay all those people again. You're paying for extra inspections and extra labor and materials setting up containment. 

@Tinah Canda like this... "You're fired."

@Abbie Gibson the laws in MA state that you cannot rent to a family with a child under 6 without a lead cert on file. The unit MUST be deleaded, the standard disclosure isn't enough. You should really look into RI laws. The standard disclosure is Federal and applies to every state, but most (especially blue states" added tougher laws too. If your family is ignoring lead and own properties in MA, they're setting themselves up for huge fines. This is the EPA site which applies in EVERY state including RI... https://www.epa.gov/lead Check out the Lead based paint enforcement link.

@Derreck Wells , Trump style. : )

I did a little research about firing an agent and it turns out, you're right you can fire them anytime. However, in my case if I do, he is still going to get paid. It seems it's not going to help me at this point.