Lead Paint

10 Replies

I am looking at purchasing a building built in 1920. I am assuming there is lead paint there. A visual inspection looks okay but there are no lead certs. There are children under 6 living in the building. Building was bought as part of a lot of foreclosed buildings. No leases.

Worried about the potential problems that could arise with lead paint in the building.

Has anyone bought a building with kids living there and you were not sure if there was lead paint or not? What did you do? My other building had lead certs when I bought it.

The tenants should have been given copies of "Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home" when they moved in and the current owner should have copies of the form both have to sign.

Are "lead certs" a local requirement? HUD doesn't require testing, but does require disclosing whether or not testing has been done. And there are now "safe work practices" that require certian steps when renovations involve lead paint.

You can be sure (assume it is so) there is lead paint. Get in there ASAP and look for peeling paint especially around the window sills. Kids will break pieces off and chew on them. You have a big liability here if you don't check this out. Also, like Jon said, hand out those pamphlets and get signatures. What are "lead certs"? Better understand any state particular requirements. The states can be worse than the Feds.

With proper care you will be fine. If contractor does work be aware of the potential for dust. Consider wet sanding. Get rid of peeling paint and cover with oil based primer. Be careful if children present. Good to use a certified lead paint contractor just to cover yourself.

From my understanding, the lead laws in Massachusetts are more stringent than most other states. It's imperative that you familiarize yourself with them, as my casual reading of the rules show that you have to remove or cover lead-based hazards where there are kids under 6:

Massachusetts Lead Law & Legal Documents

I found this FAQ telling: "Can a rental property owner be held liable for a lead poisoned child? Yes. If a child is lead poisoned by lead hazards where the child lives, the owner is legally responsible. An owner cannot avoid liability by asking tenants to sign an agreement that they accept the presence of lead paint. Complying with the Lead Law is the best protection an owner has from liability."

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer.

@Ben Skove is right, lead paint is a big deal in MA. Be sure to read all the pages linked to the one that he gave you, and don't take it lightly.

I know we have some people who attend the Worcester Black Diamond who have done lead abatement and who have had lead abatement done, so you may be able to connect with them this coming Tuesday. You'll need to both remove the lead properly and get a lead cert if you have children under 6 in the property, even if they were there when you bought the building. There are interim measures that are outlined on the link above.


The law takes into account visitors. If a grandmother lives in a unit and has her grand-kids over you could be liable. There was a part that said if a resident was special needs it covered them up to 18-21.

You can check those at the local REIA's who rehab how they handle lead.

You can call in advance of the meetings to the Club president for info. Check the vendor lists on their site there may be an inspector on it. The inspectors website may have info on it.

Good luck


@Daniel H. Yes, in Massachusetts you'll be inheriting lead problems if you buy this property without lead certs.

Mandatory blue lead form is Federal and covers all states.

I'd hire a licensed lead inspector for the whole building and use their report to renegotiate if needed.

@Daniel H. we've got a very Landlord friendly Massachusetts Lead Inspector I can refer to you if needed. He hasn't been to our MassRealEstate meetings lately but he's saved me a ton of money.

Also the Housing Court Judge is coming to speak with us September 17, you're welcome to join us.

Thanks @Mike Hurney . This property is actually in CT. My current property is in MA. I'm not even sure if the do lead certs here in CT.

Hi, @Daniel H. ,

I'm assuming this is a multi-family? If it's a single-family, there's rarely anything other than "unknown" in the disclosures. You buy it that way and sell it that way. If it had ever tested positive for lead, then the seller is legally obligated to disclose that and, if I remember correctly, to give you the test results. I believe they must also disclose whether any children living there had ever been tested and what those results were (double-check that, as I'm going by memory).

I'm not familiar w/the ins and outs of multi-families - other than that I understand you have a lot more to concern yourself with in terms of code, liability, etc. - but I would call the state Department of Consumer Protection for more info. If it's a city w/a housing authority, they could probably give you more info as well. And a housing inspector is another place to check.

Best of luck!

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