Questions On Lead Paint

7 Replies

Hello -

I am hoping to get some advice on buying investment properties that are known to have lead paint present. I'm buying in the Hudson County, NJ area for any of you who know the specifics of this market.

My question is how do you treat this? I know there are waivers you can have signed and notices you must give on this but is it to big of a risk to even take on or is it easy to deal with? I'm curious to know any legal situations that any of you have dealt with over dealing with a lead paint property? Is the liklihood of a lawsuit pretty high (obviously more when children are involved)? Can tenants get around the waiver in a lawsuit?

Lastly, how difficult is it to get rid of? Do those of you who buy homes with lead paint present remove it immediately or just get waivers signed and remove when you are turning over the apartment?

Appreciate any and all insight even from out of area!


1) US EPA is now doing audits, so people are being caught just for paperwork violations. Fines can be thousands or tehns of thousands of of dollars per unit.

2) How much lead-based paint? Known how? By a report prepared by a good consulting company that has performed a proper inspecting using an XRF machine?

3) Lead-based paint usage fell of a cliff in the 1950s, as the water-based paints became good enough to displace oil-based paints. Half of apartment buildings built 1960 to 1978 have none, the other half have very little. In older apartments there is more in neighborhoods which were fancier at the time of construction. It is most likely on exterior wood (almost 100% on 1940s and older), interior wood (50% chance), kitchen & bathroom walls & ceilings (35% chance), and then much less likely on other ewalls & ceilings.

4) You need to read the entire EPA regulations, and the entire OSHA regulations. Many states, counties, and cities also have lead regualtions, so you also need to read them. What you don't know can and will hurt you. All of this is on the Internet.

should be a few boards on here if you search the forums about this topic. It's definitely getting harder to deal with lead-base paint issues. You must use lead-base-paint certified contractors and use special removal/clean-up techniques or take the class and get certified yourself to work on your own investment properties if you're doing anything extensive (sanding large area, replacing windows, etc.). The only pre-1978 home that we bought, I had tested and certified lead-free as part of the contract as once I got the lead-free designation in MD, I can do my own repairs without certification.

@Shea Stringert the laws will vary by state as will the risk. Do you live in a liberal state or a more conservative state? How liberal are your courts and d they lean one way or the other in tort cases?

In general lead paint is no big deal. It is simply another thing that takes money to deal with.

There are federal laws regarding how lead paint is dealt with. In general if you disturbed more that 6(?) sq ft. of paint surface you need to use lead safe practices supervised by a licensed lead safe worker. Painting is not disturbing, sanding removing cutting are. State laws may add additional requirements.

Lead paint was used because it was more durable. It is most often found in windows doors and trim where the wear would be more significant. Sometimes removing a modest amount of trim will make you property lead free.

Another option is to encapsulate the lead. For example laminating 1/4"Sheetrock over the walls covers the existing lead paint.

Intact Lead paint is not a hazard, flaking chipping and peeling, and lead paint dust are the biggest risks. If a window goes up and down the friction creates fine lead dust which falls to the floor. Little rug rats crawl on the floor and it gets on their hands. And we all know kids love to put their hands in their mouths.

Can tenants get around the waiver in a lawsuit?

I have no doubt this would be easy for them to get around. More importantly is the child never signed the waiver. In Maryland a child has until they are 21 years old to sue.

I am not an attorney, and the above is not legal advice for your specific situation. I may have used the wrong terminology in some instastances above but the principals should be correct.

Originally posted by Shea Stringert:
... I know there are waivers you can have signed ...

I am not aware of any waivers. There are disclosures that you must make and a pamphlet that you must distribute, and the tenant or buyer would sign the disclosure acknowledgment that indicates disclosure was made and pamphlet received. Notice I used the word "must" not "should" or "might" ...

As far as state laws go, no state is allowed to have a law more lenient than what the federal law is. So it is at least as stringent as the federal requirements; Wisconsin is known to be one of the more stringent states for example - requirements tougher than federal.

And some cities (e.g. Philadelphia) have taken to regulating the presence of lead based paint ...

Those comments of mine are intended to supplement the posts from previous posters on this thread.

This is good info. I am under the impression it is fine/safe to paint one or two coats over, but, then again, with a young child, I hope that it would fly. I will keep in mind that painting is ok, and with cutting and such I should budget for a serious job. Does anyone know how much more expensive it would be to deal with this for a moderate rehab vs. the same rehab built in 1975?

I'm in Michigan and here we have to provide a pamphlet on lead (pdf available from EPA) to every new tenant, and have them sign that they received it, for any house built prior to 1978 that might contain lead. I think you don't have to if you've been certified lead free, I haven't looked into that yet. The pamphlet describes how to handle lead based paint, what not to do, what the risks are, etc.

As far as dealing with it, we will need to hire lead certified contractors to perform the painting and renovations where there might be lead present. Most of the houses have wood exteriors and are painted in lead based paint, so when they need painting we plan to pay the extra money to have them scraped down to wood, sealed, and repainted. Some have resided with vinyl in our area, obviously this is more expensive short term.

So, for us, we'll deal with it as it comes up, and everyone gets the pamphlet in the meantime.

Our home was built in the 50's, so when we purchased it we signed the same paper saying we received the pamphlet. The only place we've seen the suspected lead paint is on the old siding, which is under the newer vinyl siding, when we added on to the house.

Hope that helps,

The federal laws and regulations apply in all states. There are also some state and local laws and regulations. The above comment regarding local political climates applies just to the state and local situation.

Yes, if a proper inspection shows no lead-based paint, the requirements for pamphlets, notifications and such do not apply.

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