I bought an old house and as I was repainting it I was exposed to lead based paint. What are my legal rights?

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Question:

A few months ago, I purchased an old house in a transitioning neighborhood and did a lot of the renovations myself, including scraping off the peeling paint in the basement.   Anyway, a few weeks into the remodeling, I started having really bad headaches and just feeling totally listless.  My doctor ran tests and found I had high levels of lead in my blood.  I am pretty sure the poisoning came from the old paint in the house I bought, but I'm not sure whether the former owners who sold me the house knew about the lead-based paint.   If they did know, can I bring an action against them?

 

Answer:

Under the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, also known as Title X, homeowners and landlords are required to disclose any information they have regarding lead-based hazards in and around the property.  They also are required to provide any records they personally have regarding any lead hazards.  This is especially true if the home was built prior to 1978, the year the government banned lead-based paint for residential use.

As your doctor probably informed you, lead poisoning can lead to some very debilitating health issues, not only the headaches and listlessness you suffered, but other symptoms such as memory problems, loss of coordination, gastrointestinal problems, even seizures and coma.  For young children, lead poisoning can lead to learning and behavioral disabilities as well as a lowered IQ.  In extreme cases, lead poisoning can even cause death.  These health problems are the reason disclosure is so important.  If the former owners knew about the lead-based paint, by law they were required to inform you of it.  Also, they should have provided you with an opportunity to do a lead-based paint inspection.  If they did not, you may have a case against them.  You should consult with an environmental law attorney to determine your rights and what you should do next.

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