Lead Paint Law, Renting, Tenants, and New Landlords

 

It is 2012 and the multifamily market is red hot with investors and owner occupants competing against each for the move-in condition properties in decent locations and in decent condition. Along with all of these new purchases of multifamily homes comes a new wave of landlords who are untested and will have to deal with finding tenants and especially with complying with tenant rights and being in compliance with health, safety, and lead paint laws.
See Attorney Richard Vetstein’s piece of the renting and the Lead Paint Law:

 

In 2011, the Attorney General sued a Metro-Boston landlord for evicting or threatened to evict tenants with young children, renting apartments containing lead paint to tenants with young children, failing to abate lead hazards in those apartments, failing to provide proper notice of lead hazards to his tenants, and making misrepresentations regarding the presence of lead paint in his apartments. The complaint further alleges that the landlord retaliated against tenants when they reported him for violations of the law.

 

Unfortunately, many Greater Boston landlords aren’t prosecuted by the AG’s office and are allowed to impose family unfriendly and unlawful housing practices like advertising that “Unit Not Deleaded.” The ad, while albeit truthful, it might as well read “Children Under 6 Not Wanted.”

 

Under the Massachusetts Lead Paint Law, whenever a child under six years of age comes to live in a rental property, the property owner has a responsibility to discover whether there is any lead paint on the property and to de-lead to protect the young children living there. A property owner or real estate agent cannot get around the legal requirements to disclose information about known lead hazards simply by refusing to rent to families with young children.

They also cannot refuse to renew the lease of a pregnant woman or a family with young children just because a property may contain lead hazards. Furthermore, property owners cannot refuse to rent simply because they do not want to spend the money to de-lead the property. Any of these acts is a violation of the Lead Law, the Consumer Protection Act, and various Massachusetts anti-discrimination statutes that can have serious penalties for a property owner or real estate agent.The law is somewhat conflicting regarding landlords for owner occupied two family homes. Chapter 151B, the state anti-discrimination law, exempts owner occupied two family homes from the prohibition of discrimination against children. However, there is no such exemption written into the lead paint law. So if a child is born into an owner occupied 2 family, it must be de-leaded. Of course, the safest practice is not to discriminate against tenants with children at all. 

Have you ever thought you were a victim of rental discrimination? Landlords, how do you handle renting to families?

 

 

Willard D. Cunningham
Willard Cunningham, Broker/Principal
(617) 921-4758  cell/direct
will@willardgrp.com http://willardgrp.com/bio
MA License# 9077116
WILLARD REALTY GROUP 1953 Massachusetts Ave. Ste. 400775 Cambridge, MA 02140 http://willardgrp.com/ MA License: 9011

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