Is your rental unit exempt from lead hazard disclosure rules?

Learn whether lead disclosure rules apply to your rental unit.

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Question

I’m moving in to a studio apartment in an older building and my landlord said he does not have to provide lead hazard disclosures to me. Is that true?

Answer

If you are living in what’s called a “zero-bedroom” unit, such as a one-room studio, your landlord is exempt from complying with federal lead regulations requiring disclosure of lead paint hazards on the property. Even if you lived in a larger apartment, the rental property may be exempt if the building was built after 1978.

 If you are concerned about potential lead hazards in your studio apartment, express your concerns to your landlord, and find out the last time your rental unit was painted. (It was undoubtedly painted after 1978, at which time the federal government required the reduction of lead paint on house paint!) Check with tenants in similar (but larger) rental units in the building (if any) to see if the landlord identified any lead hazards in their disclosures.

You can also buy a home lead testing kit (widely available at hardware and paint stores). These kits are inexpensive, but often unreliable.  Another option is to hire a professional inspector, but this will cost a few hundred dollars.

For more information, see the Nolo article Lead Paint In Your Home. Also, consult the extensive resources in the lead section of the EPA website. These include pamphlets, documents, forms, and information on all lead paint hazards, federal laws and regulations, and useful advice on topics such as testing your home's drinking water and finding a contractor licensed to test for and remove lead.

Also, the Nolo books Every Tenant’s Legal Guide (or California Tenants’ Rights if you live in California) included detailed discussions of landlord responsibilities for lead paint hazards and tenant options for resolving  lead problems in rental units.

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