Lead poisoning is one of the leading public health hazards in the U.S. today. The Ohio Department of Health recently tested Cleveland children under 6 and found almost 14% had elevated blood levels. One of the most common sources for child lead poisoning is lead paint hazards from homes built prior to 1978. Low-income individuals are especially vulnerable to having to live in old housing where lead paint is still an issue.
Some protections exist for those purchasing or leasing housing built before 1978. The Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, also known as Title X, covers all housing offered for sale or lease built prior to 1978. This includes private housing, public housing, federally owned housing, and all housing that receives federal assistance.
Under this act, a landlord must provide a tenant with an approved Environmental Protection Agency pamphlet on how to identify and control lead hazards. The landlord must disclose all known lead hazards in the unit and in all common areas a tenant may use. A landlord must also provide a prospective tenant with any lead hazard reports related to the unit. Finally, the lease must include terms stating that the landlord has complied with all the notification requirements in Title X.
Renters and buyers who did not get the required information should call The National Lead Information Center hotline at 1-800-424-LEAD(5323). Callers can request a general information packet, and ask any questions concerning lead. If it turns out the home has a lead hazard, tenants should seek legal assistance. A tenant may sue a landlord if the landlord doesn’t provide the required information. The City of Cleveland’s lead hazard control ordinance declares lead hazards a public nuisance and the Commissioner of Health may order the landlord to abate, or clean up, the nuisance.
Lead poisoning can have long-term, irreversible effects on children. Homeowners and renters moving into a new dwelling should be sure that the seller or landlord provides all required information related to lead in the property.
This article was written by Luke Condon and appeared in The Alert: Volume 33, Issue 2. Click here to read a full PDF of this issue!