Because people might find it a little difficult to locate this important document online, I have posted both a link here (click the image above or below to see the document on the EPA’s site), and as a backup [given that so much essential information and vital scientific data has been deleted from the EPA’s website in recent years] I have also uploaded a PDF copy of the document in English to my website so people can download it directly here (link here).
If you need help finding this booklet in another language, please let me know, but in the meantime here’s the EPA’s main page about this booklet with click-through links to the booklet in many languages and several formats: LINK.
This copy of the document linked here on this page is from June of 2017, which is the most recent copy of the document available from the EPA at the time of publishing this blog post (August 2019.)
Why is this booklet important?
This is the booklet that your landlord is required by law to give you when you sign a contract to rent a pre-1978 house or apartment in the United States.
Despite the name of the booklet, it won’t REALLY protect your family from Lead exposure (mostly because current U.S. government standards for what is considered “Lead-safe” in a home are not actually protective of children’s health) – but it’s worth a read, to have the context and an overview of the concern.
If your prospective landlord does give you this booklet, it is a heads-up that you really want to take a second, thorough look around the apartment for deteriorating paint before signing the lease (and definitely before moving in – ideally long-before the moving van arrives to pick up your things!) and you may also want to do a little research about Lead paint and the impact of early childhood Lead poisoning before you consider moving in.
If I am a tenant what is the procedure for signing this booklet?
Ideally, the document confirming the receipt of this booklet and the Lead hazard disclosure statement should be signed BEFORE a tenant moves in, with enough time for the tenant to choose to not rent the property — and legally back out of the agreement — based on any information they find in the pamphlet or information they find upon careful review of the Lead hazard disclosure statement (and associated documentation about the property) that makes them uncomfortable with or unsure about renting the apartment in question.
If my landlord doesn’t give me the booklet and/or doesn’t have me sign for it, what is the penalty?
If your landlord failed to give you this booklet, and if your landlord did not (along with you) sign the Lead hazard disclosure form with your rental of a pre-1978 home, then you (as a tenant) also have a bit of a bargaining chip with your landlord in requesting they pay for your cost to move out and relocate (and even possibly pay for your first month, last month and deposit on a new home if you are moving because your child was poisoned).
In any case, you should not have to pay to break your lease in a situation like this (where the landlord did not both give you the booklet and have you sign the form) and – while I am not an attorney and cannot provide legal advice – if a landlord tries to make you pay for breaking a lease, you likely have a strong solid argument against that if you have proof that they did not give you the booklet or did not have you sign the disclosure form with your lease.
Additionally, If the landlord fails to provide you (the tenant) with this booklet (in printed or digital form), and if the landlord fails to provide you with a Lead hazard disclosure as part of your rental agreement (a disclosure form that is usually separate from your lease, and signed by both the landlord and the tenant), they could incur a fine for as much as $16,000 per violation incident if you report them for this violation.
Click the two quotes below to see the source documents for each of them.
Upon writing this blog post, I also found the following nugget of information…
If there is one incident on record (usually found when a tenant makes a complaint to the EPA because they did not get the booklet or form with their lease), the EPA will also sometimes audit the landlord’s complete rental history and potentially fine them for every violation for years into the past for all properties owned and rented.
Consequently, this is a very important booklet, and the failure to provide it could result in many tens of thousands of dollars of fines for the landlord – and this is a very important fact for tenants to know.
If I signed the form and received the booklet, and my child is subsequently poisoned, does this mean my landlord is thereby legally insulated from liability for my child’s poisoning?
Short answer: No.
Signing the form and receiving the booklet does not waive your rights as a tenant to live in a safe dwelling that will not poison your child. Some landlords might think that having you sign this booklet absolves them of any responsibility for the potential poisoning of your family, but this is not the case. HOWEVER, if the landlord does NOT have you sign the form and fails to give you the booklet, you often have a stronger case in court than a family who did sign the form (and mostly this is just a fault of the legal system and precedents that have been set.)
In any event, if your landlord is responsible for your child’s poisoning (due to improper renovations, insufficient containment during renovations, renovation not done by an EPA RRP certified contractor, existing or newly created contaminated dust in the home, Lead-contaminated soil in the yard, or other reasons), it is definitely worth consulting with an attorney who specializes in these types of cases (make sure the attorney has a successful track record of lead poisoning cases that resolved appropriately generously in the client’s favor), because your real, direct costs as a parent of Lead poisoned children will be far greater than you could possibly imagine (just ask any parent of a Lead-poisoned child) and if determined to be responsible, your landlord (or his insurance) should cover as much of those potential future costs as possible.
Sadly, reasonable restitution in a case is rarely received; however, a family’s costs to care for a Lead-poisoned child are often into the millions of dollars over the life of that child – depending on the severity of the impacts of your child’s Lead-poisoning which, by the way, is not necessarily directly-correlated with your child’s exposure level, nor blood lead level.
To further clarify – a child with a blood lead level of 5, for instance, may be as severely impacted as (or more-severely impacted than) a child with a blood lead level of 18. Depending on the age of a child, the timing of their exposure, the time elapsed between their exposure and their initial testing, and other factors, what might at first appear to be a “mild” case of Lead-poisoning could at later stages of neurological development potentially have more – and/or more-significant – impacts when compared to another case which initially seems like a more-severe case of Lead poisoning. Each case is different, and needs to be evaluated separately with a full neuropsychological evaluation, and reevaluated at the key stages of corresponding brain-structure development.
Unfortunately, while some effects of Lead poisoning may be obvious and/or measurable soon after exposure, it is simply not possible to get a meaningful picture of the actual extent of any neurological damage from Lead exposure in any given child before the possibly-affected brain structures have completely developed (which, depending on the area(s) affected could even take up to a decade or two), at which time neuropsychological testing can reveal the level of impairment in that area.
In conclusion, my best advice….
If a landlord hands you this booklet and asks you to sign a form acknowledging receipt of this booklet, run away. Find another house to rent that was (preferably) built after 1980, and ideally built after 1989 (just to be safe!) As a mother of a child with a permanent significant brain injury as a result of being lead poisoned as an infant, I can truly tell you it’s not worth the risk (however slight) to live in a pre-1978 house. It’s just not worth it.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.