Landlords and Lead-Based Paint Laws
Lead-based paint was primarily used in homes built before 1978, but its effects are still being felt today. Lead is a toxic substance; exposure to lead increases the level of lead found in your blood, which can cause learning and other behavioral disorders. Chipped or cracked lead-based paint can increase your exposure to the lead in the paint. In 1978, Congress banned lead-based paint, and a variety of federal guidelines were put into place.
As a landlord or property manager, under federal law you are required to do the following to protect yourself: 1) If the property was built before 1978, you must provide a disclosure to your tenants stating whether or not you have any knowledge of lead-based paint being present in the home; 2) Include a warning statement about lead-based paint in your lease; 3) Give your tenant a copy of the federal HUD/EPA pamphlet “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” (which your real estate agent or real estate attorney should be able to provide); and 4) Avoid the use of lead-based paint and other lead-based products when making repairs.
As a landlord in Illinois, you must also abide by the following practices: 1) If a lead hazard is found on your property, you must mitigate the hazard using regulated procedures; 2) If a tenant is found to have lead-poisoning, you must allow a public health agency to inspect your property; 3) You must allow the local public health department to inspect your property if at least two units in your rental building have received lead-based paint mitigation notices in the past five years; 4) You must allow the local public health department to inspect your property if a pregnant woman or the parent of a small child requests an inspection, which they may request so long as at least two units in the building have received lead-based paint mitigation notices in the past five years; 5) If any unit in your rental building has received a lead-based paint mitigation notice, you must post a notice stating as much in the common area of the building; and 6) If your building or rental property houses two or more families, you must post a lead hazard warning sign when construction is being performed.
Some municipalities in Illinois, such as the City of Chicago, have other requirements also. Prior to entering into any lease, make sure you are familiar with the rules in your city. It is important to be diligent and provide all notices and warnings required by law, both for your safety and for the safety of your tenants.