Lead Paint in a rental unit.

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I received a notice from a Health Department that one of our units has a Lead Paint. The apartment was tested and it seems the doors, door jambs, windows, window trims, porch and back staircase are all painted and have lead paint. The house is over 100 years old. Currently, the apartment is rented to a tenant with little kids where one of the kids tested high for lead paint. Tenants lease expired 2 months ago. It seems it will take some time to replace majority of the windows, doors, porch and other sections. We were thinking to give a tenant 30 days notice since now they are month to month and do the renovations. Any thoughts? Thanks, Mal

I sure hope you gave them a Lead Based Paint brochure with their rental agreement. NY is very tough when it comes to young children suffering from lead poisoning. 

Originally posted by @Mal K. :

I received a notice from a Health Department that one of our units has a Lead Paint. The apartment was tested and it seems the doors, door jambs, windows, window trims, porch and back staircase are all painted and have lead paint. The house is over 100 years old. Currently, the apartment is rented to a tenant with little kids where one of the kids tested high for lead paint. Tenants lease expired 2 months ago. It seems it will take some time to replace majority of the windows, doors, porch and other sections. We were thinking to give a tenant 30 days notice since now they are month to month and do the renovations. Any thoughts? Thanks, Mal

May I suggest you read some of the other threads here on lead paint?  Many references on those threads, including to the EPA website.  Most important, as @Pat L. noted, hopefully you have a signed lead paint disclosure from these tenants.

Look, almost any home built before '78 has lead paint; the EPA website says so itself.  It isn't necessarily a problem, i.e. further citing the EPA's official brochure: "Generally, lead-based paint that is in good condition is not a hazard."  Other than that, I hesitate to give advice - I'm not qualified and this is a touchy subject!  I'm just suggesting you take the necessary steps to find out whether yours is, or is "not a hazard" (per EPA), before you run off and start renovations.

What prompted the notice from the Health Department in the first place?  Did they recommend a course of action?  I'm a couple thousand miles away and could've guessed that your unit over 100 years old has lead paint...what prompted them to point it out?

It will take time for remediation.  If you can't do the work with the tenants there, then they need to vacate.  You can talk to them after you get a better idea of the scope of work and give them the option of moving back in once remediation is done.

My tenant said she took her 2 years old son for an annual check up and they tested him for lead poisoning. The lead levels were elevated and the doctor called Health Department that came to the house and tested her apartment. I received a letter in the mail stating the areas the lead paint was detected and that I have 14 days to respond to the letter and submit an action plan. I called Health Department today but I think they were closed due to a holiday. @Matthew Irish-Jones  

Unfortunately, I did not give her the brochure. I know HUD provides a Broucher for their recipients, but I'm not sure if Social Service does the same thing in NY (she is receiving assistance). @Pat L.

We owned the house for 2 years and we had no knowledge of lead based paint. The original owner passed away after living there for over 60 years and the house was an estate sale. @Pat L.

@Mal K. I recommend getting advice from a lawyer. The fact that you did not follow the law in providing your tenant with the lead paint brochure and certification that you knew of no lead paint puts you in a very vulnerable position. 

I originally started a rehab on my own (by lead certified contractor) to remove lead based paint out of the areas that were contaminated .I started with the inside of the unit first (replacing windows, window sills, door and door frames). Once my funds for the renovation ran out I asked for extension. At the end of last year my and surrounded counties were awarded a grant for LEAD HAZARD REDUCTION DEMONSTRATION PROGRAM (LHRD) funded by HUD. I applied for the grant and was awarded. All the work that was left to do was outside. Due to the harsh winters in my area it was postponed to Spring. In the Spring we had Covid-19 and work was postponed once again. I'm on the waiting list to get it done.

Contact the health department and get the inspectors contact information. They will be the ones signing off on remediation/approval, and allowing you to begin the work. 

Next step would be to get in contact with a contractor who is licensed to remove the lead paint, it cant just be done by anybody. Provide that license number to the inspector and get going on the work. I would put the family in a hotel or an apartment for a week.

Hopefully nothing comes of it, it is unfortunate the kid has high levels of lead in his system. I don't see why they would randomly test him unless he was having symptoms, which isn't good. 

This is a perfect example of what it takes to be a landlord. Shortcuts and a hands-off attitude can get anybody in trouble. At the very least, this will be an expensive lesson for you. Not trying to be harsh but this is reality.

Hope it all works out, good luck

@Mal K.

Responsibility to provide the lead-based paint brochure falls on the owner/landlord of every property built prior to 1978 regardless of state. This is a federal law.

The fact that the tenant is receiving rent assistance has no bearing on your responsibility to have provided this.

Don’t want to be the bearer of bad news but this is a very serious situation. I would highly recommend consulting your attorney. 

@Mal K. Get a lawyer quickly and be prepared to spend a lot of money. While this is state specific, “no knowledge” of lead is usually not a defense to strict liability. The high test likely triggered the notice as the doctor is likely a mandated reporter. They probably don’t have to prove the lead came from the house either. I wouldn’t be surprised if your insurance refused to cover all this as well.

ANY kind of perceived retaliation will make this worse. I'm talking 100s of thousands to millions of dollars regardless of the worth of your property if it's in an LLC whatever.

In MA you would be required to house them at your expense while remediating to lead safe standards. The state would not care what it costs you. You want the kids lead levels to go down ASAP. Again, in MA you would quite likely be on the hook for a lifetime of medical expenses. A high lead test makes parents legitimately nervous and even the most tolerant can turn into mama bears.

I can’t emphasize enough how seriously you should take this and how you should not do any shortcuts right now..I may be painting the worst case scenario but it is also a distinctly realistic one.

The Child was tested multiple times after it was discovered elevated lead levels in his system and currently (last year) everything went back to normal. I definitely didn’t take any short cuts in remediating the situation. The quickest, but most expensive way was to replace everything that was tested with a higher level of lead base paint. All the work was done immediately once we had a report and after the meeting with the Inspectors that tested the apartment (that was one of the requirements that none of the work could be done before the official meeting). Our tenants are still living there and are happy we took the action. The work that is left it will be cover by the grant LHRD that recently was awarded to our county. Since, our house was already tested and my tenants qualify for the assistance (income based) we are scheduled on the list to have the work done.