When you sell a home, there are a variety of disclosures you have to make. The laws vary by state — some states are focused on requiring the buyer to do a lot of research, while others expect the seller to disclose a detailed list of concerns.
One disclosure remains the same no matter what state you’re in. The 42 U.S.C. 4852d Lead Paint Disclosure is required by the federal government, not individual states. As a result, you have to provide this information every time you sell a home in the U.S.
As a home buyer, you should expect this disclosure and take time to understand what it’s telling you. Here’s what home sellers and home buyers need to know about lead paint and the federal disclosure requirement.
Why is Lead Paint a Big Deal?
Lead-based paint was commonly used in homes up until 1978. In that year, the federal government banned lead paint in residential structures.
The reason for the ban is that lead paint, depending on the type of exposure, can be a significant health risk. There can be damage to the brain or nervous system, high blood pressure, digestive problems, problems with pregnancy, and muscle and joint pain.
The highest risk is for young children, who have a tendency to put things in their mouths — including paint chips that can have high concentrations of lead. Unfortunately, lead poisoning sometimes does not have immediate symptoms of illness. This means a child (or adult) may be critically ill before you realize they need treatment.
Even those who don’t directly ingest paint are at risk — in fact, dust from lead paint is still the number one source of childhood lead poisoning and poses a significant risk to adults as well.
There are many other sources of lead to keep an eye on as well, including keys, costume jewelry, and more.
What is the Lead Paint Disclosure?
Because so many homes built before 1978 used lead paint, it’s still very common today. The dangers of having lead paint — especially in older homes where paint is likely to chip or peel — prompted the EPA to create a specific disclosure form and requirements.
All home buyers and renters should know their rights and make sure they receive proper disclosure before they finalize their purchase and move.
As a home buyer, you should receive:
- An EPA pamphlet titled Protect Your Family From Lead In Your Home
- Full disclosure of any information the home seller knows about the presence of lead-based paint or related hazards
- An attachment to the contract that confirms the seller has complied with all notification requirements
- A 10-day period to conduct a paint inspection or to test the risk for lead-based paint and related hazards
Remember, a lead-based paint inspection is not part of a normal home inspection. If you have concerns, contact a certified inspector for a lead inspection.
Responsibilities for Sellers
As a seller, you will need to fulfill the requirements listed above along with any other disclosure requirements. Your listing agent will make sure you don’t miss anything that’s needed.
Beyond the paperwork, sellers need to disclose in writing any information they know about lead paint in the home. If you have performed lead tests or had specific issues with lead in the house, you need to disclose the results. If you had lead-based paint issues corrected, that must be disclosed as well.
While you don’t have to disclose lead-containing objects in the house that are not paint, if they create dust that contains lead the rules change. Lead-containing dust is considered a lead-based paint hazard regardless of source.
Homes that are given as a gift are not covered under this rule. However, mobile homes or houses that are given instead of payment are.
If a home seller violates the 42 U.S.C. 4852d Lead Paint Disclosure rules, they will be subject to fines up to $10,000. They can also be held civilly liable to the buyer for damages equal to three times the actual damages the buyer incurs, plus court costs.
How to Remove Lead-Based Paint
Whether you’re a home buyer or seller, you may be wondering how to remove lead-based paint to avoid the hazards to you and your family.
There are professionals you can call who will take care of the abatement for you, but you can also do it yourself. Generally this is a concern when you’re planning to remodel, make repairs, or when you notice peeling paint.
Gather the Tools
You’ll need to create a sealed exit between the room and the rest of the home. This will keep the dust in the room and allow you to avoid contaminating other areas of the house. Use poly plastic and duct tape.
You’ll also need a half-mask respirator, thick rubber gloves, medium and coarse sanding sponges, a scraper, and a HEPA vacuum. Keep in mind a HEPA vacuum is different than a home vacuum with a HEPA filter.
Use more poly plastic and duct tape to cover the floor completely and seal the edges carefully. Getting lead dust in carpet is a disaster, as it’s almost impossible to remove. Remove area rugs, shut furnace vents, and keep the windows closed.
The goal is to keep all of the dust in a very controlled area that’s easy to clean up. You don’t want any in your ducts, out the window, or in any other part of the home.
Once you’ve put on your protective gear including the respirator, you’ll want to spray the area with water before you disturb the paint. This allows you to sand or scrape away the paint without creating a dangerous lead dust cloud.
Don’t use power tools or sanders that will kick up dust. You’ll want to work by hand on removing lead paint.
Clean Up Thoroughly
When you’ve finished removing the paint, clean up very carefully. Use a sponge to wipe up residue, and use the HEPA vacuum to remove any dust or chips in the area, including on the floor or walls.
You’ll need to rinse and wipe the area you scraped, and then wet down the poly plastic on the floor before folding it in and placing it in a thick garbage bag. You’ll also need to use the HEPA vacuum on the floor and wipe the floor down carefully.
As you can see, this is an involved process — it may be worthwhile to have a professional take care of it.
Cover Your Bases With an Experienced Realtor
Whether you’re buying or selling a home, working with an experienced real estate agent is essential. As a buyer, you’ll get top-quality help finding your ideal home and getting a great deal. Your buyer’s agent will also help ensure you receive all required disclosures.
As a seller, you need a low-cost listing agent that will provide help marketing your property and screening buyers. You also want assistance handling the legal requirements in your state — and of course the lead paint disclosure as well.
Either way, a Clever Partner Agent is what you’re looking for. Contact us to connect with a top-rated agent today.