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Lead paint: the condo question

Posted by Rona Fischman June 25, 2008 04:03 PM

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A reader asked me a question about lead paint and condos. What happens if a unit is lead-safe, but the common area is not? How does the liability work? Since IANAL, I asked a legal colleague. She told me this:

Letís say a child under the age of six living in a condo more than 20 hours a week. If a condo unit owner were to complete a lead inspection, remove all the lead from within their unit, and obtain a Certificate of Compliance, he or she would have done everything in their power to remove the lead paint health risk from affecting their tenant.
Without lead in the condo unit, the tenant would be unable to hold the condo owner liable for any lead paint poisoning that the child later suffered.
The responsibility, then, would fall upon the Trustees of the Condominium Trust or the Managers of the Condominium Association. The Trustees/Managers have a legal responsibility to care for the Common Areas and grounds of the Condominium on behalf of all the unit owners. In that position, their job is to insure the safety and health of all who live at the Condominium, including owners and their legal tenants. If it could be shown that the child had elevated lead levels causing illness, and the childís condo unit was free of all lead-based products but there was lead in the Common Areas, then the liability for the childís injury would fall to the Condominium Trust/Association and that entity could be sued for the consequential damages sustained by the child resident.

So, here is yet another thing to be concerned about when you buy a condo in an old building in Massachusetts.

Thank you J.K.

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

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