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Ask Tamara: Can My Landlord…

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 7.06.28 PMAsk Tamara
March 11, 2015
Saint Louis.

From Mama M. (via Facebook)

“Hello! It’s me again. I’m finally getting our landlord to do something about the lead-based paint around the garage doors and back-yard door that we have discovered exists. He wants to come over and “knock out the wood” and replace it. He is not a certified contractor, though he says he would follow best practices. I am nudging him to just paint a layer of encapsulation paint over it instead. That’s probably the easiest for just “anyone” to do, right? Thanks for your quick thoughts.”

If you have an answer for Mama M., please post it below as a comment.

Tamara’s response:

By law, since he’s a landlord, he’s not allowed to touch it—he’s not allowed to disturb lead paint*. The only way he’s allowed to touch it is if he has an EPA RRP certification himself. If he does touch it, he can be fined $37,500 per incident, per day. So generally – as a landlord, he’s not allowed to disturb any lead-based painted surfaces in your home. It’s mandatory that he hire an EPA RRP contractor.

If he claims he does not know this, please share with him that according to Landlord/Tenant law, renting a home is considered a business, and as a business owner he is required to know the laws and regulations that pertain to his area of business – so claiming he is not aware of this law and the specifics is not a legal defense.

The good news is that there are lead hazard remediation grants (through many cities / counties/ states) to take care of issues like this and they are not based on the landlord’s income, they are based on the tenant’s income.  So a rental property that houses a young child (or that has a young child visit more than a certain number of hours per week) might qualify for $10,000 or $15,000 in free remediations services (funded by a federal grant.)

*This is defined as any painted surface over 6 sq. ft. (interior)/20 sq. ft. (exterior); or any doors or windows (of any size.)

P.S. If any EPA RRP Rule expert disagrees with our response, we’ll be happy to adjust accordingly.  Thank you!

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