True Story in 2012
A landlord with a long history of violating lead-paint poisoning laws was sentenced Wednesday to a year and a day in prison by a federal judge. The landlord sat impassively in U.S. District Court as the Judge imposed the sentence, which included six months’ home detention after release from prison. The landlord owned and managed 175 rental units in all built before lead paint was banned. A landlord since 1974, the company had been issued more than 20 lead-paint violation notices or compliance orders over the years by city health or state environmental agencies.
What are a landlord’s legal responsibilities to tenants regarding lead in rental property?
Because of the health problems caused by lead poisoning, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act was enacted in 1992. This law is commonly known as Title X (Ten). Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations implementing Title X apply to rental property built before 1978.
Under Title X, before signing or renewing a lease or rental agreement, a landlord must disclose any known lead-based paint or hazards on the property. Both the landlord and tenant must sign an EPA-approved disclosure form to prove that the landlord told the tenants about any known lead on the premises.
Property owners must keep this disclosure form as part of their records for three years from the date that the tenancy begins.
The landlord must also give every tenant the EPA pamphlet, “Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home,” or a state-approved version of this pamphlet.
A landlord who fails to comply with EPA regulations faces penalties of up to $16,000 for each violation and a landlord who is found liable for tenant injuries from lead may have to pay three times what the tenant suffered in damages.