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What You Need to Know About Lead-Based Paint Exposure

Chipped Off Lead Paint Laying on the FloorPart of your responsibility, as a landlord and property owner in Chevy Chase, is to make sure that your rental property is safe and habitable. For most property owners, this entails doing regular repairs and maintenance. However, if your rental house was built before 1978, then there are a couple of other things you may need to add to your property maintenance list. A lot of the inner walls and ceilings of older homes were created using lead-based paint. Landlords, as much as possible, should be cautious about limiting lead-based paint exposure. This is because lead-based paint can be super dangerous to your tenants. In the next sections, we’re going to talk about some of the hidden risks of lead-based paint in a rental home and what property owners can do to protect their tenants from exposure.

The Hidden Dangers of Lead Paint

Buildings constructed before 1978 were typically coated with lead-based paint. Unless the paint is disturbed, chips, or crumbles into dust, having lead paint on the walls will not necessarily be dangerous. Lead paint, as it ages, becomes toxic to people (especially children) who are exposed to it. Around windows and window sills, railings, banisters, porches, doors, and door frames are some common spots where you can see this. If an adult ingests lead paint flakes or inhales the dust, it can lead to a host of health problems. This includes headaches, body aches, digestive issues, memory loss, and even kidney damage. Lead paint is especially harmful to children. Learning disabilities, hearing problems, nerve damage, and bone marrow issues are some of the conditions lead paint causes in children. These health concerns can have a damaging and lifelong effect on people who are unfortunate enough to find themselves exposed to lead-based paint.

Landlord Responsibilities

The number one priority, as a landlord, should be ensuring the health and safety of your tenants. The risks of lead paint go beyond that as well. As a matter of fact, if you knowingly rent a property with lead-based paint without divulging that fact to your tenants, you could be liable for any related financial expenses of treatment and additional damages, such as pain and suffering, in most states. Due to this, it is important to understand if your rental property has lead-based paint, inside or out, and take any appropriate steps from there.

One of the first things you should do, if you don’t know whether your rental has lead-based paint or not, is to have it tested and inspected. Depending on the age of the property and location, it may not be sufficient to rely on the information given to you when you bought the property. Then, if lead is seen, you may be legally required to notify your tenants and give them facts about lead-based paint and the dangers of exposure.

Avoiding Tenant Exposure

One of the best ways to eliminate the possibility of risk of exposure is to have the lead paint removed completely. This method, while being expensive, is the most permanent long-term solution to the matter. You should not attempt to take off lead-based paint on your own; this is a job best left to the professionals.

If removal and replacement are not an option, you may also encapsulate or enclose your rental’s surfaces to hinder any contact with the lead paint. Encapsulation, which is commonly the more affordable option of the two, is a process where a special coating is placed over the lead paint, producing a watertight seal. The other option, enclosure, involves covering the existing surface with a new one. This is just like putting up new drywall over an old wall or covering window sills with cladding. While both options may temporarily work, if the coating ever does wear off or the enclosed exterior is removed, the danger of exposure will be very high. You may also still need to inform your tenant about disclosures regarding the lead paint, depending on the laws in your area.


Owning rental properties can come with a couple of unexpected challenges. And we, here at Real Property Management Washington DC, understand that. When these challenges do arise, you need the experience and resources of Chevy Chase property management experts to help you in every step. Contact us online to learn more.

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