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Lead paint regs and landlords

Posted by Rona Fischman June 17, 2008 03:51 PM

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Last week, a landlord asked me to address the impact of the lead paint law on landlords.

The Massachusetts lead paint law is very clear: the owner of the property is responsible for making the property lead-safe if a child under six lives there. Once a child is born, that child has the right to a lead-safe environment. It is a health and safety law, just like a landlord must maintain a working toilet in a rental unit.
As a landlord, you must present this form to prospective tenants. Landlords may not discriminate against families with children. They cannot ask pregnant women or children to leave.

There are many stories of landlords caught between a rock and hard place when they need the rental income, but do not have the cash to delead for their tenants. The good news is that there are programs which will pay for deleading. If you are not eligible for one of these programs, there are do-it-yourself classes that help make the work cheaper.

Deleading has become easier. Encapsulatant paints and other low-risk methods have been approved. Deleading is a cost of doing business just like any other health and safety issue in your rental unit.

Title 5 -- the septic system law -- could require expensive repair before sale of homes not on public sewer. Likewise, the lead paint law is designed to establish a safe standard for housing. When Title 5 first came into effect, I spent countless hours taking classes about human waste. There was a lot of dissention about who bears the cost of changing to meet the new standards. I see this as similar.
What is your lead paint experience? Have you been forced to delead for a tenant? Have you had trouble finding a place to live because you have children?

Did you have to put in a septic system to pass Title 5 regulations? What other expensive repairs do owners do in the name of health and safety regulations?

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About boston real estate now
Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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