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Lead poisoning

Know your rights and your landlord duties

Background on Lead Poisoning
Lead can be found in paint, dust, and soil, and is very harmful to children if exposed. Children under the age of 6 are especially susceptible to lead poisoning because their brains are still developing quickly, and they are likely to ingest lead through swallowing paint chips or dust around the home, toys, or yard.

Lead poisoning can affect children and adults by:
  • deteriorating brain cells and the nervous system
  • creating behavioral and development problems and delays
  • causing headaches, memory and concentration problems
  • hearing issues
  • digestive and reproductive problems
What is the law?
Congress passed the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, also known as Title X, to protect families from exposure to lead from paint, dust, and soil. Section 1018 of this law directed HUD and EPA to require the disclosure of known information on lead-based paint and lead-based paint hazards before the sale or lease of most housing built before 1978.

Types of Housing Covered?
Most private housing, public housing, Federally owned housing, and housing receiving Federal assistance are affected by this rule.

Effective Dates
The regulations became effective on September 6, 1996 for transactions involving owners of more than 4 residential dwellings and on December 6, 1996 for transactions involving owners of 1 to 4 residential dwellings.

What Can Tenants Do If Lead Info is not provided?
If you did not receive the Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards form when you bought or leased pre-1978 housing, contact 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

What is the landlord's duty?

Before finalizing a rental agreement, landlords must:
  • Give an EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards.  Pamphlet here
  • Disclose any known information concerning lead-based paint or lead-based paint hazards. The landlord must also disclose information such as the location of the lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards, and the condition of the painted surfaces.
  • Provide any records and reports on lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards which are available to the seller or landlord (for multi-unit buildings, this requirement includes records and reports concerning common areas and other units, when such information was obtained as a result of a building-wide evaluation).
  • Include an attachment to the contract or lease (or language inserted in the lease itself) which includes a Lead Warning Statement and confirms that the seller or landlord has complied with all notification requirements. This attachment is to be provided in the same language used in the rest of the contract. Sellers or landlords, and agents, as well as homebuyers or tenants, must sign and date the attachment.  Disclosure form here
Landlords must retain a copy of the disclosures for no less than three years from the date of sale or the date the leasing period begins.

  What can tenants do to protect themselves?
1. Demand disclosure of known lead hazards before making a rental agreement on a property this was constructed before 1978.
2. If you did not receive the Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards form when you bought or leased pre-1978 housing, contact 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).

What can advocates do?
1. Incorporate lead disclosure into homesearch education so that tenants don't rent without getting a written disclosure statement. If the statement says "no knowledge," ask the landlord to get a lead assessment before agreeing to rent. Encourage tenants to report non disclosure. This strategy worked in Cincinnati.
2. Require that housing authorities refuse lease approval for a housing choice voucher household unless the lease (or addendum) includes a lead disclosure statement. Right now HCV landlords and public housing authorities have this duty, but the model lease addendum doesn't require it.
3. Create a private registry of houses where children were active when they were poisoned. Ask parents of poisoned children to voluntarily report houses where they lived or where their children spent time (babysitters, relatives, friends). Then ask these property owners to get lead testing.
4. Force the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) to disclose the addresses where children may have been poisoned. You would not need to create a private registry if ODH would release the addresses they have. Some enterprising attorneys need to challenge ODH's claim that the addresses are protected by HIPAA protections. RHINO says nonsense! the houses are not the patients!
5. Fight for local legislation. In 2014, advocates in Toledo proposed a local ordinance that would require a landlord to prove her/his rental property was lead free before offering it for rent. ( http://www.toledoblade.com/Politics/2014/03/04/City-takes-up-lead-paint-issue.html ) The bill was modeled on a similar ordinance in Rochester New York, but got bogged down in local politics. Now's the time to use the Flint Catastrophe to revive this law in Toledo and in communities with lead hot spots around the state

 Notes and Links

Flint-a call to action

Lead in the news

Lead in water in Ohio

Sebring Ohio stories