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Landlord-tenant hell: how to tread when there is lead

Posted by Rona Fischman July 2, 2008 12:47 PM

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A young professional couple rented an apartment recently. It was in a two-family house in or near Boston. The landlords were long-time local residents who need their rental income to make ends meet. The tenants earned 6-figures. The landlords verified the tenantsí income and checked their references, as a good landlord should. Then tenants moved in. Everyone was happy.

A few weeks later, the tenants informed the landlords that they were expecting, due five months from that day. This means the landlords will be obligated to make the apartment lead-safe.

This story has a happy ending. Because the landlords where moderate income homeowners, they benefited from a program which did the de-leading for free. Not all landlords will be so lucky.

Discrimination against families with young children is widespread. It is illegal, but it happens frequently. There are landlords who require that their tenants sign a statement that they will not bring children to live in the apartment (this is not legal, but is common practice.) Many landlords do not proffer this form, which they are required to do.

Was this couple wrong to withhold this information? In an atmosphere where couples with children have a hard time finding an apartment, were they just being prudent? They were not legally obligated to tell the prospective landlords; were they morally obligated? These are the lead paint questions of the week!


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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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