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What You Need to Know About Lead-Based Paint Exposure

Chipped Off Lead Paint Laying on the FloorIn Ellsworth, as a landlord and property owner, you should make sure to keep your rental property habitable and safe. For most property owners, this means to consider conducting regular repairs and maintenance. However, there a few other things that you need to include in your property maintenance list if your rental house was built before 1978. For instance, many older homes had their interior walls and ceilings painted with lead-based paint. Lead-based paint can be extremely unsafe for your tenants. This is why landlords are concerned about controlling lead-based paint exposure as much as possible. We are going to go through some hidden dangers of lead-based paint in a rental home as well as what property owners can do to avoid exposure for their tenants.

The Hidden Dangers of Lead Paint

Lead-based paint was usually applied in buildings constructed before 1978. Having lead paint on the walls will not pose a risk unless the paint is disturbed, chips, or crumbles into dust. Lead paint, as it ages, becomes toxic to people (especially children) if they come into contact with it. You can typically observe this placed around windows and window sills, railings, banisters, porches, doors, and door frames. People consuming lead paint flakes or inhaling the dust can experience a rise in a host of health problems. Some of these include headaches, body aches, digestive issues, memory loss, and even kidney damage. Lead paint causes learning disabilities, hearing problems, nerve damage, and bone marrow problems. It is especially harmful to children. There can be damaging and lifelong effects on health for individuals who are unfortunate enough to find themselves exposed to lead-based paint.

Landlord Responsibilities

The health and safety of your tenants should be your number one priority as a landlord. The risks of lead paint extend beyond that too. In truth, in most states, if you consciously rent a property with lead-based paint without telling that fact to your tenants, you could be liable for any related expenses of treatment and other damages, such as pain and suffering. For this reason, it is crucial to understand without a doubt whether your rental property has lead-based paint, inside or out, and take the necessary steps from there.

Having your rental tested and inspected is the first thing you should do if you don’t know whether it has lead-based paint or not. Just basing off of the property’s age and location may not be enough to trust the information given to you when you bought the property. Then, if lead is discovered, you may be legally required to tell your tenants and supply them with data about lead-based paint and the dangers of exposure.

Avoiding Tenant Exposure

An excellent way to get rid of any chance of exposure is to have the lead paint fully removed. This option, while expensive, is the usual permanent long-term solution to the issue. Professionals are best left with the job of removing lead-based paint, so do not attempt to do this yourself.

If removal and replacement won’t work, you could encapsulate or enclose your rental’s surfaces to stop any contact with the lead paint. Encapsulation is the most feasible option between the two. It involves applying a special coating over the lead paint, and this creates a watertight seal. Meanwhile, the other route you can take is an enclosure. This is means covering the existing surface with a new one, just like when you put up new drywall over an existing wall or covering window sills with cladding. While these two options may work temporarily, if ever the coating does wear off, or the enclosed surface is gone, the chances of exposure will be extremely high. You may also be required, depending on the laws in your area, to provide disclosures to your tenant about the lead paint.


We, at Real Property Management Acadia, understand that owning rental properties can come with a couple of unexpected challenges. When problems come up, you need the experience and resources of Ellsworth property management specialists to see you through. Contact us online to learn more.

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