Lead Disclosures for Rental Property FAQ

Landlords must disclose the presence of lead-based paint before renting or renovating property, and may be held liable for tenant health problems resulting from lead.

By , Attorney · UC Berkeley School of Law

Exposure to lead can result in serious health problems, especially in children and pregnant women. Behavior and learning problems, lower IQ, hyperactivity, slowed growth, hearing problems, and anemia have all been associated with lead poisoning. Whether you're a renter or a landlord, here are some key points you should know about lead in rental housing.

Where Is Lead Found in Rental Housing?

Lead is found throughout the environment, including in some rental homes. Lead in homes is primarily found in lead-based paint (mostly in homes built before 1978), lead pipes (mostly in homes built before 1951), lead-based solder in home plumbing systems (mostly in homes built before 1988), dust containing lead, and household products that have been made with lead. For example, lead is found in many types of ceramic tiles commonly used in homes. Lead is usually not a risk unless it is deteriorating—for example, if lead-based paint is peeling or construction leads to materials with lead in them become airborne.

What Is Title X?

"Title X" or "Title Ten" refers to the federal Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (42 U.S.C. §§ 4851 and following). Its purpose is to minimize the risk of lead poisoning from lead-based paint in housing and create standards and rules around the reduction and removal of lead-based paint. Many states have enacted similar laws, and some states might have stricter requirements than Title X.

Most relevant to rental housing, Title X requires many landlords to make disclosures about lead-based paint in rental housing whenever a property is rented.

Keep in mind, though, that Title X's disclosure requirement applies only to lead-based paint; it doesn't require landlords to make disclosures about other potential sources of lead in the building, such as ceramic tiles or pipes containing lead. Some states or cities might have stricter lead disclosure laws, or require landlords to disclose any known hazards, so be sure to check your local laws.

Which Rental Properties Does Title X Apply To?

A landlord should assume that Title X's lead-based paint disclosure requirements apply to their property unless it is:

  • housing for which a construction permit was obtained, or on which construction was started, after January 1, 1978
  • a loft, efficiency, or studio apartment
  • a short-term vacation rental of 100 days or less
  • a single room rented in a residential dwelling
  • housing certified as lead-free by a state-accredited lead inspector
  • housing designed for persons with disabilities, unless any child less than six-years old lives there or is expected to live there, or
  • a retirement community (housing designed for seniors, where one or more tenants is at least 62 years old), unless children under the age of six are present or expected to live there.

Because state and local laws might have different requirements from Title X, just because Title X doesn't apply to a rental property doesn't mean that a landlord is off the hook for disclosing lead-related hazards. Many state and local laws require landlords to disclose any known hazards to tenants, regardless of the type of property.

What Do Landlords Need to Disclose to New Tenants About Lead-Based Paint?

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. If the rental is a multiunit building, the landlord must include records and reports about common areas and other units if the landlord obtained the information as a result of a building-wide evaluation.

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.

What Happens If a Landlord Doesn't Make Required Lead-Based Paint Disclosures?

A landlord who fails to comply with EPA regulations faces penalties of up to $21,018 for each violation. (24 C.F.R. § 30.65 (2024).) Tenants can also sue their landlord for damages from lead-based paint: A landlord who is found liable for tenant injuries from lead might have to pay three times what the tenant suffered in damages.

What Disclosures Do Landlords Need to Make When a Rental Is Being Renovated?

When a landlord renovates occupied rental units or common areas in buildings constructed before 1978, EPA regulations require that current tenants receive lead hazard information within 60 days of the date the renovation will begin. (EPA regulations define "renovation" as any change that disturbs painted surfaces, with some exceptions such as minor repairs and emergency renovations.)

If the renovation is taking place in an occupied rental unit, the renovator (landlord or outside contractor) must give tenants in the unit a copy of the EPA pamphlet "Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home." If common areas will be affected, the renovator must distribute a notice to every rental unit in the building, describing the nature and location of the renovation work and the dates work is expected to begin and end.

Landlord Liability for Exposure to Asbestos and Other Environmental Hazards

In addition to lead, property owners may be liable for tenant health problems caused by exposure to other environmental hazards, such as asbestos. Regulations issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) set strict standards for the testing, maintenance, and disclosure of asbestos in buildings constructed before 1981. For information call the nearest OSHA office or check OSHA's website.

Nolo's Every Landlord's Legal Guide goes into details about landlords' duties regarding environmental hazards. Tenants seeking information about their rights when it comes to environmental hazards in rentals can check out Nolo's Every Tenant's Legal Guide.

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