I lease a few apartments and some of the other units have dangerous lead exposure. How can I protect myself from liability?

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Question:

I lease apartments out of a three-floor walkup built in the early 90s.  I've been hearing about suits brought against landlords for lead poisoning under Title X.  I'm a bit worried about getting sued.  Does this law apply to me?

 

Answer:

Under Title X regulations, the following properties are exempt:

  • Zero bedroom units, such as efficiencies, lofts, and dormitories.
  • Housing leased for less than one hundred (100) days, such as vacation houses or short-term rentals.
  • Housing for the elderly (unless children live there).
  • Housing for the handicapped (unless children live there).
  • Rental housing that has been inspected by a certified inspector and found to be free of lead-based paint
  • Housing sold at a foreclosure sale.

These regulations primarily target pre-1978 dwellings or dwellings where children may live or visit.  Before 1978, there were no regulations against lead-based paints, so many family homes and apartments were painted with these hazardous paints.  Because children are unusually vulnerable to lead poisoning, the government had to take action and enact regulations to curb the rising percentages of childhood lead poisoning.  As a landlord, you want to make sure that even though you may be exempt, you are not liable under other federal or state laws.  Consult with your attorney to make sure you are in total compliance.

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