Lead, Asbestos, and Other Hazardous Materials in an Apartment

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Federal law requires landlords renting older buildings to disclose the presence and risks of lead in the apartment, and some states require similar disclosures about asbestos and other hazardous materials. Landlords may be liable for health effects caused by these chemicals if they knew and failed to disclose it, depending on the chemical and jurisdiction.

Lead Disclosures

Federal law requires landlords renting older buildings to make certain disclosures about lead. However, the law does not require the landlord to conduct an inspection or to remove it. Before signing a lease for housing built before 1978, renters must receive the following from their landlord:
  • An EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards
  • Any known information regarding the presence of lead-based paint or hazards in the home or building. For multi-unit buildings, this requirement includes records and reports concerning common areas and other units arising from a building-wide evaluation; and
  • A "Lead Warning Statement" and confirmation that the landlord has complied with all notification requirements included in the contract.
For more information, see here: https://www.epa.gov/lead/real-estate-disclosure#renters. Penalties for landlords that fail to make these disclosures may be as high as $10,000 per violation.

Asbestos

Like federally-required lead disclosures, some states require disclosures about asbestos, mold, and other hazards. Many law firms offer asbestos help on a contingency basis since asbestos litigation can be quite lucrative for lawyers. Here are some safety tips if you’ve discovered asbestos: https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family

Disclosures About Other Chemicals

Some states require disclosures about mold and other hazardous chemicals to tenants. See your state and local laws for more info.

First Discovering Hazardous Materials

If a tenant discovers lead, asbestos, or other hazardous material, they should notify the landlord immediately and keep documentation. Tenants should avoid touching the material for their own safety. The tenant will usually be able to break their lease if the landlord does not fix the problem quickly. Under the "implied warranty of habitability," landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining safe apartments for their tenants. States set their own standards, but generally, it means the apartment is safe and sanitary. The presence of hazardous chemicals almost certainly qualifies the apartment as unsafe or “uninhabitable,” and thus, the tenant may move out (tenants should notify the landlord first). In some states, the tenant may make fixes to the apartment and deduct from the costs from the rent if the landlord fails to make fixes. If tenants would rather stay in the apartment and see the problem fixed, local housing codes sometimes include detailed rules on hazardous conditions (like asbestos), and landlords are responsible for making those fixes. Tenants can report landlords that fail to make fixes to local housing authorities, who may pressure the landlord further with fines or court orders to make the fixes.

Health Injuries from Undisclosed Hazards

If the landlord knew about the presence of lead, asbestos, mold, or other hazards, failed to disclose it, and the tenant suffered injuries from it, then the landlord is usually liable for the damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. In cases where the landlord fully disclosed the presence of the hazardous material, it’s less likely that a tenant will have a claim against the landlord. However, a good lawyer may be able to find a claim against the landlord, depending on the exact details of the case and the jurisdiction.

Lead Disclosures


Federal law requires landlords renting older buildings to make certain disclosures about lead. However, the law does not require the landlord to conduct an inspection or to remove it. Before signing a lease for housing built before 1978, renters must receive the following from their landlord:

  • An EPA-approved information pamphlet on identifying and controlling lead-based paint hazards

  • Any known information regarding the presence of lead-based paint or hazards in the home or building. For multi-unit buildings, this requirement includes records and reports concerning common areas and other units arising from a building-wide evaluation; and

  • A "Lead Warning Statement" and confirmation that the landlord has complied with all notification requirements included in the contract.


For more information, see here: https://www.epa.gov/lead/real-estate-disclosure#renters. Penalties for landlords that fail to make these disclosures may be as high as $10,000 per violation.

Asbestos


Like federally-required lead disclosures, some states require disclosures about asbestos, mold, and other hazards. Many law firms offer asbestos help on a contingency basis since asbestos litigation can be quite lucrative for lawyers. Here are some safety tips if you’ve discovered asbestos: https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/protect-your-family

Disclosures About Other Chemicals


Some states require disclosures about mold and other hazardous chemicals to tenants. See your state and local laws for more info.

First Discovering Hazardous Materials


If a tenant discovers lead, asbestos, or other hazardous material, they should notify the landlord immediately and keep documentation. Tenants should avoid touching the material for their own safety. The tenant will usually be able to break their lease if the landlord does not fix the problem quickly.

Under the "implied warranty of habitability," landlords are responsible for providing and maintaining safe apartments for their tenants. States set their own standards, but generally, it means the apartment is safe and sanitary. The presence of hazardous chemicals almost certainly qualifies the apartment as unsafe or “uninhabitable,” and thus, the tenant may move out (tenants should notify the landlord first). In some states, the tenant may make fixes to the apartment and deduct from the costs from the rent if the landlord fails to make fixes.

If tenants would rather stay in the apartment and see the problem fixed, local housing codes sometimes include detailed rules on hazardous conditions (like asbestos), and landlords are responsible for making those fixes. Tenants can report landlords that fail to make fixes to local housing authorities, who may pressure the landlord further with fines or court orders to make the fixes.

Health Injuries from Undisclosed Hazards


If the landlord knew about the presence of lead, asbestos, mold, or other hazards, failed to disclose it, and the tenant suffered injuries from it, then the landlord is usually liable for the damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. In cases where the landlord fully disclosed the presence of the hazardous material, it’s less likely that a tenant will have a claim against the landlord. However, a good lawyer may be able to find a claim against the landlord, depending on the exact details of the case and the jurisdiction.

Last Update : July 22, 2018 UTC

Comments discussing Lead, Asbestos, or Hazardous Materials

9 months ago
0
votes

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 Title X law requires landlords to disclose any known lead paint hazards, where they specifically are located in residences, as well as records relating.

My question is, how do we know if they are not disclosing these hazards? What our residents recourse to finding out if the apartments do indeed have lead (and asbestos) hazards not disclosed with specific details on where in apartments and common areas?

I asked leasing offi

...read more
Renter in Mountlake Terrace, WA, USA
Lead, Asbestos, or Hazardous Materials
9 months ago
0
votes

The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 Title X law requires landlords to disclose any known lead paint hazards, where they specifically are located in residences, as well as records relating.

My question is, how do we know if they are not disclosing these hazards? What our residents recourse to finding out if the apartments do indeed have lead (and asbestos) hazards not disclosed with specific details on where in apartments and common areas?

I asked leasing offi

...read more
Renter in Mountlake Terrace, WA, USA
Lead, Asbestos, or Hazardous Materials
8 months ago
0
votes

Are landlords required to paint the walls, paint chiped walls, fix sinks that are ready to break, fix moving toilets, rust underneath the bathroom sinker, bathtubs that are chiped on the bottom of the tub, holes in walls, elect. Sockets don't work, a brown colored water comes out of the tub faucet, no water pressure, a gestation of cockroach, door has chipped wood, as if the termites got a hold of it, screen tore apart, cabinets have same picture on them, from the last tenant, kids room light an

...read more
about 1 year ago
0
votes

I have been living at my residence for 2 years 3 months ago I got my housing choice voucher got approved for housing before inspection came and inspected the house the landlord was supposed to remove the lead based paint and paint they didn't properly uncertified no tarps my children have lead in their system I'm harassed every month by my landlord maintenance aren't getting fixed I don't know what to do I'm scared every month I'm going to lose my house
about 1 year ago
0
votes

Mold growing every since I moved in