It is possible for a landlord to be held responsible for the lead poisoning of tenants. However, liability is unlikely unless your landlord violated the rules laid out by Title X of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992.
Title X requires your landlord to provide you with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) pamphlet: Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home’ or a state approved equivalent before you sign or renew a lease or rental agreement. Title X also requires that both you and your landlord sign a disclosure agreement that proves your landlord informed you of any lead-based paint or other lead hazards on the property.
If your landlord is in violation of Title X, he can be fined up to $10,000 for each violation. If your landlord is found to be liable for your injuries resulting from lead poisoning, he can be liable for up to three times the amount of damages that you actually suffered.
No, there are many exceptions to Title X. A few of the exceptions include the following:
- Buildings on which construction began after January 1, 1978
- Buildings that are certified to be lead-free
- Vacation rentals of 100 days or less
- Single rooms rented in a residential dwelling
- Buildings that are designed for persons with disabilities, unless children under six live there
- Retirement communities, unless children under six live there
Landlords must inform their tenants of lead when they perform renovations on buildings that were built before 1978. Your landlord must provide this information 60 days before the renovation begins. If the renovation takes place in a common area, the person performing the renovation must provide notice to all tenants informing them of where and what kind of renovation will occur and the dates of when the work is to be performed. If the renovation takes place in a rental unit, the renovator must provide the tenants with a copy of the EPA pamphlet mentioned above.
Landlord-tenant laws are constantly changing and can be very confusing. An experienced real estate lawyer can help you determine if your landlord violated Title X and whether your landlord is liable for any injuries you may have suffered due to exposure to lead.