Lead Paint Test and Potential Remediation

4 Replies

We're closing on our first property in December. We are in MA. The house was built in 1900. The windows have been replaced.

Do we do the lead paint test? And, if so, if it's a yes, what are our options?

Thanks for any feedback. :)

@Johanna Silva undoubtedly there will be lead paint somewhere in the house. Who knows how many layers down? Lead based paint was banned 40+ years ago. Whatever is there has been painted over numerous times. If it is not deteriorated just paint over it some more. I would not test for it and don't allow your kids to chew on the woodwork. ;))

The house is from 1900, assume there will be lead based paint.  Your concern is more than just windows, its doors, base boards etc.  It is your responsibility as a landlord to remediate the lead. Use a certified lead remediation company especially if you plan to rent.

I bought my house (in MA built 1880) and assumed there was lead, which there was.  Took care of it professionally so that there would not be a concern renting, or when we go to sell.  Good Luck!


There is a lead disclosure form you are required by Federal law to give to every tenant when they rent a unit. If you don't you will get huge fines. In a recent case, a landlord was fined $110,000 for not giving the disclosure form to tenants. 

Chances are your real estate agent didn't inform you of the lead laws at all (they rarely do, though they should). In MA, if the property isn't deleaded when you buy it, you are responsible for the past tenants that may have been lead poisoned while living there unless you delead within 90 days of closing. The state is trying to get every rental property in MA lead safe, and they figured this was the best way to do it.

If it doesn't have a lead certificate on file, it IS going to cost you to delead, the state has pretty much made it mandatory at this point (at least if you want to avoid the liability of a lead paint lawsuit from a past tenant). Don't let that scare you though, I've had clients negotiate $20k off the selling price, and I only charged them $10k for the deleading, so it can actually work in your favor for it not to have been done yet.

You also cannot rent to someone with a child under 6 unless you have a lead certificate on file with the state. If you rent to a couple with no kids and they have a baby, you are then required to delead the unit with the added expense of putting the tenants up in a hotel during the process.

If a unit is a 2 or 3 bedroom, chances are you'll end up having a family apply. You cannot deny the family because of the lead paint either, that's considered discrimination (you're refusing them because they have a kid) and is against the anti-discrimination laws of the state. If there are kids under 6, you NEED to have the unit deleaded and have a lead certificate on file.

If the unit has been inspected, but not deleaded, you also cannot do any construction or remodeling in the unit, they consider that unauthorized deleading and it will prevent you from ever getting a lead cert. The best you would be able to get is a Letter of Environmental Protection, which tells everyone you did illegal work then hired a licensed deleader in to fix it. It generally increases your insurance rate and decreases your tenant pool (who wants to rent from a shady landlord that does illegal work?).

On the plus side, when you delead the property it will actually increase your tenant pool and the rent you'll be able to charge them. A deleaded unit is more valuable to a tenant then a non-deleaded unit, even if they don't have kids under 6, they still like to know they are safe from lead paint issues. Anyone can get high blood lead levels, the law only specifies under 6 because it affects the developing brain more severely then a it affects a fully developed brain.

If you want to message me the address, I can check the database and see if there was ever an inspection done on the property for you. I'll be able to tell if there's a lead cert on file already too. Maybe you'll get lucky and it's already been done.

Good Luck on your investment!