Lead-based paint is something to be aware of in homes built before 1978. Lead was used in making paint before people knew about the health and safety concerns. Since existing apartments or homes may have lead-based paint, you should be informed about this by the landlord before signing the lease or buying a house. Other sources of lead may be lead pipes in the apartment or house or lead in the soil.
The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992 requires the landlord to provide tenants with information about lead-based paint in the apartment or house being rented or bought.
Since 1996, the act has applied to all rental properties. An owner or landlord who fails to give the proper information can be sued for triple the amount of damages. In addition, the owner may be subject to civil and criminal penalties. The landlord or owner is not required to test or remove lead that exists in the unit, unless ordered to do so by the local Code Enforcement Office or other local, state, or federal agencies.
Long-term lead exposure is especially dangerous for unborn babies and young children. Ask your pediatrician or local health department how often your children should be tested for elevated lead levels. If lead levels are elevated, seek help investigating the source of exposure and eliminating the risk. Families with children suffering from lead poisoning may have rights under federal and state fair housing laws; seek advice from a housing advocate or attorney if you are unable to get assistance with your situation.
If your residence needs lead abatement work done, check with your county or municipality to see if funds are available.