Property Owners’ Responsibilities Under Massachusetts Lead Law

If you purchase or rent out residential property in Massachusetts where young children live or may live, you need to be aware of the requirements of the Massachusetts Lead Law, 105 CMR 460.00, and in particular CMR 460.100, Duty of Owner(s) of Residential Premises.

Lead poisoning is a hazard to many young children in Massachusetts, who are exposed to lead paint with harmful effects. Children exposed to lead may experience brain damage, kidney failure, and learning disorders. The Lead Law was enacted to prevent these serious health consequences, which can be permanent and disabling.

Under the Lead Law, a property owner must either remove or safely cover lead paint. The Lead Law applies to all homes built before 1978 when a child under the age of six is a resident of the household. Examples of hazardous circumstances that would trigger the law include paint chips and lead paint anywhere that a child may reach it. Subject properties include both an owner’s residence and a rental property. There are grants and loans available to help pay for lead abatement.

The Lead Law offers two major alternatives for a property owner to achieve compliance:

  1. Removal of all lead paint that would constitute a hazard for children. The property must be assessed by a licensed lead inspector, who runs appropriate tests and evaluates the lead levels throughout the home and then generates a report. The property owner may then hire a contractor who is licensed and equipped to de-lead the property. If the property owner is qualified, he or she may do the work. Before a property owner attempts to abate a lead hazard, the home must be inspected by a licensed lead inspector, and the owner or agent must be trained to perform the de-leading. The inspector then returns to approve the work after completion. Finally, a Letter of Full Compliance will be issued to the property owner.
  2. If circumstances require it, as evaluated by the inspector on a case-by-case basis, the owner may opt to correct only the most urgent lead contamination, while using approved methods to keep existing hazards at an acceptable level. This is first evaluated by a licensed risk assessor, who outlines the amount of work that may be done on a temporary basis. The risk assessor then approves the work after completion, and a Letter of Interim Control is issued to the homeowner. The remaining hazard abatement must be completed within two years, and then the owner will be issued  a Letter of Full Compliance.

These rules and regulations also apply to rental property, and a landlord may be liable if a tenant’s child is poisoned by lead at home. A landlord may not ask a tenant to sign a release regarding lead on the property, and a landlord may not refuse to rent to a tenant with a young child because of the Lead Law. This could result in charges of discrimination.

Consult an experienced Massachusetts real estate attorney regarding the implications of the Massachusetts Lead Law for your decision to purchase or rent a property. At Pulgini & Norton, we are familiar with any issues that may arise during the process of purchasing or renting a home or property. As experienced Massachusetts real estate attorneys, we can help you with all of your real estate law needs. If you have a question about any aspect of a home purchase or sale, give us a call today at 781-843-2200 or contact our office online, and we can help legally clear the way for you.

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