renter worried about lead based paint

8 Replies

I am renting out to a couple with a baby. the house is ~40 years old so earlier than 1978 in california.

We are required to provide lead paint disclosure. Everyone just says they are not aware (ie no one ever tested it). thats what our seller did and thats what i did to renter.

now renter is worried that lead paint can cause health issue for kid. she wants to get it tested. my realtor says that u will always get a result as positive. however, since this has been painted multiple times over it shouldn't matter unless the paint is peeling. 

Any ideas how to get out of this logjam?

I'm pretty sure that if a child under the age of 6 lives in the apartment you are required to have it tested prior to them moving in. If there are only adults than the general disclosure and the "I'm not aware" will be fine.

I would however take action yourself if she's already inquiring about it as if you leave it for too long and there ends up being lots of lead in there you could have a lawsuit down the line if the child develops any issues that can be related to lead exposure.

Good luck!

@Robert P.

That may be a MA state requirement, but is not a Federal requirement or required in most states.

@Roy Mitle

Lead based paint was outlawed in 1978, any property built after that time does not need to be tested.  In practicality the law was actually passed ten years earlier in 1968, with a ten year phase in.  By the 1970, there was little lead paint used for inside residences, but you never know.

If you test, you then would need to disclose the results to every tenant and every prospective buyer for as long as you owned the property.  Preventively make sure that you never have peeling paint at your place.

How did this happen?

In FL we are required to give them the "EPA Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home" brochure.  The standard FAR lease has a section where each applicant has to initial stating they have read through the brochure and understand the risks involved.  I have to initial to say there may be lead if the house is pre-1978.  There is a conversation about this before everyone inks the lease and money changes hands.

Are they now claiming ignorance, or is your lease not structured that way, or they didn't worry about it when they moved in but now they have a baby coming and it becomes a concern?

Lead-Safe Housing and Lead Hazards

(California Civil Code 1941.1California Health & Safety Code 179611798012413017920.10,105251 to 105257)                                                                                                                                                                         
Deems a building to be in violation of the State Housing Law if it contains lead hazards, and requires local enforcement agencies to enforce provisions related to lead hazards. Makes it a crime for a person to engage in specified acts related to lead hazard evaluation, abatement, and lead-related constructions courses, unless certified or accredited by the Department. Permits local enforcement agencies to order the abatement of lead hazards or issue a cease and desist order in response to lead hazards.

We purchased a home built in '74, so approx 40 years old as well, and had it XRF tested for lead as part of the inspection process.  It tested lead-free, which was a big help as in MD, I can now certify it lead-free as a rental unit (although I still provide the handout and make them sign the forms along with providing a copy of the test results just to cover myself).  So maybe your realtor knows something about the neighborhood, but many homes in the 70s will test lead-free so might be worth the effort.  Not sure on CA laws, but MD requires testing.  It used to just be on homes 1950 and older, but now it's 1978 and back.  

Especially if the property is in Sunnyvale or near about then I would make it a take it or leave it offer as is with the lead disclosure. If the renter is looking for that level of certainty then they can rent a more newly constructed home. The market is way too hot here to deal with this. What are they going to ask for next, a mold test, asbestos test? This tenant could get very expensive very fast.

I would check with you lawyer regarding specific laws in your state, but generally speaking, I would just tell the tenant what you wrote. You've followed the law and it has been painted over many times. If she had a problem with this beforehand, she shouldn't have signed the lease in the first place.