The Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992

In 1992, Congress passed the Residential Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act. Currently, the act is enforced by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In brief, the Act set out to regulate property sales and leases involving properties built prior to 1978, since those structures would often contain lead-based paint. The EPA and the HUD initially worked towards assisting companies and individuals -- those that not did not adequately disclose the presence of lead based paint to tenants or purchasers -- with maintaining compliance. This leeway period ended in early 1998, and since, the EPA and HUD, working independently and in conjunction with one another, have conducted investigations of violators on a regular basis, often targeting rental companies in large urban areas.

Penalties Associated with Violation of the Act

Should an agent, seller, or lessor fail to comply with disclosure requirements as mandated by the Residential Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, the EPA and the HUD reserve the right to seek civil penalties against those violators.

Currently, a total of 13 possible violations can occur in a normal real estate sales transaction, as well as a total of 11 violations in the normal lease transaction. Let's look at a few penalties associated with violations of the act:

  • Each violation carries a varied fine of $110 up to $11,000 depending the nature of the violation.
  • Multiple penalties, if applicable, are included in a single civil administrative action initiated by either the EPA, HUD, or both.
  • Base penalty amounts are variable, and can be increased or decreased based on several case-specific factors, including past history of violations, whether violations involved self-reporting, violator's ability to pay, and others. It should be noted that violations involving lease or sale to pregnant mothers or households with minor children under the age of six will prompt the strongest penalties.
  • Criminal penalties, often reserved for violators who engaged in willful and wanton disregard of the act, can be applied through the Department of Justice. These penalties include up to one year of incarceration and fines up to $11,000.

Consumer Rights under the Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992

In essence, a consumer has the right to know about potentially hazardous elements that exist in any property they are considering renting or purchasing. The act requires full disclosure of the nature of a property built before 1978, including the presence of lead-based paint.

Dangers of Lead Paint

There are a wide variety of factors that determine what health hazards and health problems might result from exposure to lead paint. There are also many different levels of lead poisoning. Health risks will depend on the frequency, duration, and severity of lead exposure. Age must also be taken into account, as children age six and under can suffer developmental and other health issues from ingestion of lead. Learn more about the dangers of lead paint.

When health problems are linked to exposure to lead paint, and when a landlord or seller of residential property failed to make proper disclosures in line with the Lead Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act of 1992, it might be time to discuss the situation with an experienced injury attorney. If a landlord or seller knew or should have known about the presence of lead but did not warn the tenant or buyer, they can be liable for all of the damages that result from exposure. (Learn more about landlord liability for tenant injuries.)

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